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Ray Graves
Date of birth December 31, 1918 (1918-12-31) (age 91)
Place of birth Knoxville, Tennessee
Position(s) Center
Head Coach
Athletic Director
College B.A., Tennessee, 1942
NFL Draft 1942 / Round 9
Career record 70–31–4 (.686)
Playing stats Pro Football Reference
Playing stats DatabaseFootball
Team(s) as a player
Philadelphia Eagles
Phil./Pitt. Steagles
Philadelphia Eagles
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
Georgia Tech (assistant)
University of Florida (HC)
University of Florida (AD)
College Football Hall of Fame

Samuel Ray Graves (born December 31, 1918) is a former American college and professional football player and college football coach. Graves is best known as the former head coach of the Florida Gators football team that represents the University of Florida located in Gainesville, Florida.


Early life and education

Ray Graves was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on December 31, 1918.[1] He was the son of a Methodist minister, and he realized that his best (and perhaps only) opportunity to attend college would be to earn an athletic scholarship.[1] Tennessee Wesleyan College, a small Methodist-affiliated college located in Athens, Tennessee, recognized his athletic talent and offered him a full scholarship.[1] Coach Robert Neyland of the University of Tennessee recognized his stand-out play and arranged for Graves to transfer to Tennessee.[1] After graduating from Tennessee in 1942, he attempted to volunteer for the U.S. Navy, but was rejected when he failed his physical because he was deaf in one ear.[2]

Playing career

Graves played college football first for a year at small Tennessee Wesleyan College,[1] and then for two years at the University of Tennessee, where he was the team captain during his senior year in 1941.[3] He was then drafted during the ninth round of the 1942 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, with whom he played for three seasons, including the temporary 1943 merger of the Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers known as the "Steagles."[3] The Steagles were formed when the National Football League had to limit rosters and cut back to eight teams because of manpower shortages during World War II.[3]

Coaching career

Graves started his coaching career as the defensive coach at Georgia Tech under head coach Bobby Dodd.[4] Under Dodd, Graves and offensive coach Frank Broyles, the Yellow Jackets won Southeastern Conference championships in 1951 and 1952, the 1951 Orange Bowl, the 1952 Sugar Bowl and the 1952 national championship.[5]

Graves was hired as the University of Florida's head coach in 1960 to replace fellow Tennessee alumnus Bob Woodruff. Graves led Florida to five bowl appearances during his tenure and coached several outstanding players at Florida, including quarterback and Heisman Trophy recipient Steve Spurrier (1963–1966), running back and future NFL first-round draft pick Larry Smith (1966–1969)[6] and defensive back and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Jack Youngblood (1968–1970).

Among the many highlights of the Graves era was a 10–6 upset victory over Bear Bryant's 1963 Alabama team in Tuscaloosa.[7] In one of the more interesting footnotes to his football legacy, Graves invited Dr. Robert Cade, then a Florida medical professor, to begin the experiments that led to the invention of Gatorade. He told his friend Kansas City Chiefs head coach Hank Stram of the drink's effectiveness, a move that would eventually lead to Gatorade becoming the official sports drink of the NFL.

Graves' best season was 1969; his Gators posted a 9–1–1 record, upset the Tennessee Volunteers, 14–13, in the Gator Bowl,[8] and were ranked fourteenth in the final AP Poll.[9] After the season, and despite achieving an all-time win-loss record at Florida of 70–31–4,[10] Graves stepped down to make room for former Gators quarterback Doug Dickey to return to his alma mater as head coach for the 1970 season. Graves remained the winningest coach in Gators football history until his former quarterback, Steve Spurrier, surpassed him in 1996.[11] Graves was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach on December 4, 1990.[12]

After resigning as Florida's head football coach, Graves remained the university's athletic director until 1979, a position he had also held since becoming the football coach in 1960. His remaining tenure as athletic director was notable for the University of Florida's embrace of the challenges and opportunities in women's college sports presented by Title IX.[13] Under Graves' guidance, Florida's women's sports program began its climb to become one of the top ten women's programs in Division I sports.

The Athletic Office at the University of Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was named in honor of Graves during the 2005 Gator Football season.

Steagles 60th anniversary

On August 17, 2003, the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Steagles in pregame and halftime ceremonies for the 2003 season opener at Heinz Field. The Steelers recreated the era in their "Turn Back the Clock" ceremonies, including broadcasting in black and white on the Jumbotron and airing World War II footage during the national anthem. All live entertainment was done to reflect the 1940s.

Graves was on-hand as six of the nine surviving members of that Steagles team were honored by the Steelers during halftime. [14] During the festivities, the Steelers gave each of the six members a replica Steagles jersey to wear. The jersey worn by Graves was returned to the team after the festivities. It was sold by the Steelers a month later, to Bill Ponko, a private collector of sports memorabilia to benefit a local charity.

Later life

After resigning as the University of Florida's athletic director in 1980, Graves became vice president of Steinbrenner Enterprises in Tampa, Florida.[15] He retired in 1989, and continues to live in Tampa with his wife, Opal.

Record as head football coach

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Florida Gators (Southeastern Conference) (1960–1969)
1960 Florida 9–2 5–1 2nd W Gator 19th
1961 Florida 4–5–1 3–3 6th
1962 Florida 7–4 4–2 5th W Gator
1963 Florida 6–3–1 3–3–1 7th
1964 Florida 7–3 4–2 2nd-Tie
1965 Florida 7–4 4–2 3rd L Sugar
1966 Florida 9–2 5–1 3rd W Orange
1967 Florida 6–4 4–2 3rd-Tie
1968 Florida 6–3–1 3–2–1 6th-Tie
1969 Florida 9–1–1 3–1–1 4th W Gator 14th
Florida: 70–31–4 38–19–3[16]
Total: 70–31–4[10]
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Julian M. Pleasants, Gator Tales: An Oral History of the University of Florida, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, p. 189 (2006).
  2. ^ Pleasants, Gator Tales, p. 193.
  3. ^ a b c Elizabeth McGarr, "A Team of Two Cities," Sports Illustrated (August 23, 2007). Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  4. ^ Pleasants, Gator Tales, p. __.
  5. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, Georgia Tech Yearly Results: 1950–1954. Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  6. ^ "A Smith to Remember," Sports Illustrated (September 19, 1966). Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  7. ^ Alabama would not lose again in Tuscaloosa until 1982.
  8. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, All-Time Coaching Records, Ray Graves: 1969. Retrieved march 4, 2010.
  9. ^ AP Poll Archive, Final 1969 AP Football Poll. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  10. ^ a b College Football Data Warehouse, All-Time Coaching Records, Ray Graves Records by Year. Retrieved September 6, 2009.
  11. ^ Associated Press, "Spurrier out at Florida," Sports Illustrated (January 9, 2002). Retrieved September 6, 2009.
  12. ^ "Ray Graves enters College Hall of Fame," Gainesville Sun, p. 1C (December 5, 1990). Retrieved September 6, 2009.
  13. ^ Bil Gilbert & Nancy Williamson, "Women In Sport: A Progress Report, Sports Illustrated (July 29, 1974). Retrieved September 16, 2009.
  14. ^ Gerry Dulac, "Steelers Notebook: Simmons will play vs. Eagles," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (August 15, 2003). Retrieved September 6, 2009.
  15. ^ College Football Hall of Fame, Hall of Famers, Ray Graves Member Biography. Retrieved September 6, 2009.
  16. ^ Southeastern Conference, All-Time Football Standings 1960–1969. Retrieved March 16, 2010.


  • Pleasants, Julian M., Gator Tales: An Oral History of the University of Florida, University of Florida, Gainesvile, Florida (2006). ISBN 0-8130-3054-4.
  • Proctor, Samuel, & Wright Langley, Gator History: A Pictorial History of the University of Florida, South Star Publishing Company, Gainesville, Florida (1986). ISBN 0-938637-00-2.
  • Van Ness, Carl, & Kevin McCarthy, Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future: The University of Florida, 1853–2003, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (2003).
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Bob Woodruff
University of Florida Head Football Coach
1960 – 1969
Succeeded by
Doug Dickey
Preceded by
Bob Woodruff
University of Florida Athletic Director
1960 – 1979
Succeeded by
Bill Carr


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