Monday, May 13, 2019

DeBusk among many influenced by Satterfield

Former Furman quarterback Frankie DeBusk talks with
coach Jimmy Satterfield. Photo courtesy of Furman
A memorial service was held Saturday for Jimmy Satterfield, who passed away last week at the age of 79 after a brief illness. While the pinnacle of Satterfield's football coaching career came in guiding Furman to the 1988 Division I-AA national championship, his influence went beyond any singular moment.

In addition to Satterfield's 21 years as an assistant and head coach with the Paladins, he also coached high school football at Eau Claire, Irmo and Lexington. All told, Satterfield coached, mentored and inspired football players for 40 years - all in the Palmetto state.

One of those players was Furman Hall of Fame quarterback Frankie DeBusk, who helped lead that 1988 squad. In the days after Satterfield's passing, DeBusk received numerous calls from friends. Many of them stated that DeBusk was the first person they thought to call after hearing the news. Under Satterfield's leadership, DeBusk left Furman as the school's all-time leader in passing and total offense.

"He was one of those guys that was easy for me to talk to and get along with," DeBusk said. "He gave me a lot of confidence as a person and a player. I spent so much time in the film room with him and coach (Tim) Sorrells and then coach (Bobby) Lamb. I was just one of those kids that loved watching all the film I could."

While passing numbers at schools across the country have taken off over the last two or three decades, DeBusk still ranks fifth on Furman's career passing chart. However, he's quick to point out that his arm wasn't a major factor in the Paladins' historic success in his first year as a starter in 1988.

"We were phenomenal on defense that year," DeBusk said. "We really didn't do a whole lot offensively until the next couple of years.
"I was very green as a sophomore and I remember the (fullback) Kennet Goldsmiths and (linebacker) Jeff Blankenships of the world meeting me at the numbers whenever I'd throw an interception to make sure we didn't do it again."

DeBusk can look back and laugh now at a particular tense time in Furman's game at Chattanooga that season. On that rainy day, the Paladins got on the scoreboard less than one minute in on Pat Turner's 13-yard interception return for a touchdown. Furman never crossed the goal line again the rest of the day, but still left with a 10-7 victory.

"Back in those days, coach Satterfield wore the headset but it was attached to his waist. It wasn't remote, where I could take it and walk away to talk to somebody. I got the headset and was talking to (quarterbacks) coach Sorrells, who was in the box," DeBusk said. "I was telling him, 'somebody needs to get down here and settle coach Satterfield down because he's losing it. We're not playing very good, but he's really panicking and losing it.'
"I give coach Satterfield the headphones back and then it dawned on me that he probably heard everything I just said. Later on in life, he used to tell that story all the time."

Jimmy Satterfield looks on in this photo
from 1986. Photo courtesy of Furman
Under Satterfield, who served as offensive coordinator for legendary coach Dick Sheridan before becoming head coach, and offensive coordinator Sorrells, the Paladins soared offensively in 1989. DeBusk threw 13 touchdowns and two interceptions that season. Since 1972, only Braniff Bonaventure (16 touchdowns, two interceptions in 1996) has had a season interception total that low among starting Furman quarterbacks.

It appeared the Paladins were well on their way to making it back-to-back national titles as they dominated I-AA competition throughout 1989. After touchdown runs of 54 and 20 yards by DeBusk in the first quarter of the 1989 playoff opener, his third run resulted in a season-ending knee injury. Along with DeBusk, Furman also lost fullback Dwight Sterling, tight end Paul Siffri and linebacker Kevin Kendrick to injuries that day in the win over William & Mary.

While the Paladins persevered and thumped Youngstown State the next week, their season ended at a snowy Paladin Stadium a week later. A failed two-point conversion with 19 seconds left resulted in a 21-19 loss to Stephen F. Austin in the I-AA semifinals.

Satterfield wrapped up his Furman coaching career after his eighth season as head coach in 1993. In his 21 years at the school, the Paladins posted 16 winning seasons. His .689 winning percentage (66-29-3) as a head coach ranks second in school history.

What stands out more than the lofty offensive numbers and wins Satterfield posted at Furman was the impact he made on players. DeBusk is just another member of the huge tree of former Furman players who went into coaching. After his playing career, DeBusk coached for 25 years. The last 18 of those came as head coach at Division II Tusculum College.

"I was just a little ole redneck from Greeneville, Tennessee that had no idea what I was going to do in life and Furman gave me a great opportunity," DeBusk said. "Coach Satterfield was a big part of a lot of people's lives. He was surrounded by a great staff of people that I've stayed close too over the years - Tim Sorrells, Bobby Johnson, Bruce Fowler, Bobby Lamb, Clay Hendrix. Those guys were all part of that family that made us very successful.
"What was so neat looking back on it now was that coach Satterfield brought back so many of his former players or guys that had been around Furman. Probably 85 percent of his staff were Furman graduates. You just don't see that in college athletics in anymore."

That coaching influence is still clearly evident today at Furman in Hendrix.

"As an offensive coach, (Satterfield) had one of the most creative minds I have ever been around. There are many things we continue to do today that coach Satterfield had a hand in developing," Hendrix said. "He gave me my first coaching job when I was 24 years old and didn't know anything. He also attended the press conference 29 years later when I became Furman's head coach."

Sandwiched around his tenure at Furman was a pair of high school state championship appearances. Satterfield's Eau Claire team reached the 1970 Class AAAA state title game and 30 years later, his Lexington team played for the 2000 Class AAAA Division I title.

Satterfield retired from coaching after his final season at Lexington in 2003. In his 21 years as a head coach, Satterfield's teams went 189-63-8. He's a member of Furman and the South Carolina Athletic Halls of Fame.

"He had an incredible impact on so many young men and sincerely cared about what kind of men, fathers, husbands and citizens we would all become," Hendrix said. "Coach Satterfield loved his players and coaches, but what I will remember most about him was how much he loved his wife, kids, and family."

1 comment:

  1. Frankie was fun to cover. I remember being on a shuttle bus to the airport after the national title game. Out of the blue, he blurts out "Well, only three weeks (or whatever the number was) until spring practice begins."