COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Wofford's Ayers retiring after 30 years

From staff reports
Posted 12/14/17

SPARTANBURG - Wofford University head football coach Mike Ayers announced his retirement Wednesday, concluding a 30-year career in which he guided the Terriers from the NAIA and NCAA Division II ranks to Division I and the Southern …

This item is available in full to subscribers

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Wofford's Ayers retiring after 30 years

Posted

SPARTANBURG - Wofford University head football coach Mike Ayers announced his retirement Wednesday, concluding a 30-year career in which he guided the Terriers from the NAIA and NCAA Division II ranks to Division I and the Southern Conference.

"I've been very blessed to have had the position of head football coach at Wofford for 30 years and another three years as an assistant coach," Ayers said. "Today is a bittersweet day in that I still love the game and my guys, but it's time for us to take a different road.

"I wasn't smart enough to graduate from Wofford, but I was smart enough to take the head coaching job and it afforded me and my family the opportunity to have a wonderful life," Ayers said. This decision that I have made today is a decision that has taken a while to make. I've prayed a lot, I've talked to people whose opinion I value a lot, and this day is a blessing. I truly believe that the program is in good hands."

Along the way, Ayers' Terriers made appearances in the Division II Playoffs in 1990 and 1991, the Division I FCS Playoffs in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017, and claimed Southern Conference titles in 2003, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2017.

"Over the past 30 years at Wofford, Mike Ayers has changed lives," said Wofford Athletic Director Richard Johnson. "Along the way, he has won a lot of football games. He will tell you that he is proudest of the men that his players have become. He is simply the embodiment of the values we at Wofford hold dear. His impact on first-generation college students will reverberate for decades to come. That is an enduring legacy. To change not one life, but many is why we are in the business of education."

Ayers' story as head coach at Wofford began in 1988. At the time a program that had a proud history, with bowl game appearances and wins over Southeastern Conference teams on its resume, had fallen on hard times.

Enter Ayers, the young and energetic coach who had built East Tennessee State into a Southern Conference contender. Over milkshakes at the Biltmore Dairy Bar in Asheville, N.C.

Wofford athletics director Danny Morrison and President Joe Lesesne discussed the opportunity with Ayers.

On Dec. 22, 1987, he was introduced as head coach.

Ayers' impact on the Terriers was immediate. He transformed that 1-10 Wofford team into a .500 squad in 1988 and then led the Terriers to an NCAA Division II playoff berth in 1990.

Ayers is the longest-serving head coach of any sport in the college's history, according to a news release from the university. Among active FCS coaches, Ayers is fourth in wins with 218 in his career, 207 of which were earned at Wofford. He leads coaches in South Carolina in longevity and victories. In the Southern Conference, he is third all-time in victories and seasons, behind only Jerry Moore at Appalachian State University and Wallace Wade at the University of Alabama and Duke University.