Spartanburg man plans to earn Willie Jeffries a community leader national award

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Joe Farr III has a passion to get something done — and one day to do it.

His goal: help earn a national award for his hero, former S.C. State football coach Willie Jeffries.

The day: Thursday.

Nominations will be accepted online Thursday in the community leader division of the fifth Hoodie Awards hosted by Steve Harvey. The top four names based on Internet votes advance to online voting Sept. 10. The final winner is scheduled to be named at an awards presentation, emceed by Harvey on Oct. 20 in Las Vegas.

Farr, 31, believes Jeffries at least should be among the final four. Given his background, that is not surprising.

His father, Joe Farr Jr., grew up on the same street in Union as Jeffries. The two were close friends; Jeffries even once dated the younger Farr’s aunt.

“We’re practically family,” he said.

But this is more than friendship, Farr said. He said Jeffries should get recognition for non-football good works in the state.

In 2002, Jeffries’ final season as the Bulldogs’ coach, Farr, then with ESPN, produced a profile on the coach for the sports network’s “Black History Month.” The program also aired as part of ESPN’s “Sports Century” series.

Farr, who has his own production company, Trey Mojo Productions, in Spartanburg, recently listened to Harvey’s radio show on a Charlotte radio station and heard a promotion for the Hoodie Awards.

“When I heard the ‘community leader’ category, I thought, ‘Coach Jeffries deserves that for all he does at S.C. State, within the Orangeburg community and the nearby Columbia community,” he said.

Farr wants South Carolinians to go online and vote for Jeffries. He is not alone.

Willie Washington, athletics director at Benedict College, has jumped on the bandwagon. Jeffries is executive director for the annual Palmetto Capital City Classic, which this year pits Benedict against Livingstone (N.C.) College on Sept. 1.

“Coach (Jeffries) led the way for us to become a (tax-deductible) 501-C-3 event,” Washington said. “With his leadership and vision, we’ve raised close to $1 million for scholarships.”

S.C. State football coach Buddy Pough credits his former coach for helping found the Orangeburg Touchdown Club, which honors local high school players weekly and names a statewide college all-star team each season. Jeffries is working this fall on S.C. State’s season-long 100th anniversary of football.

“I don’t think ‘no’ is in his vocabulary,” Pough said. “Coach is the one everyone wants as a master of ceremonies, and he’s a wealth of historical information. He knows the old, the new and the in-between.”

Those wishing to nominate Jeffries can go to www.SteveHarvey.com on Thursday to fill out a nomination form. If Jeffries makes the final four, the vote will be at the same site a month later.

“He’s going to have to beat out a lot of people,” Farr said. “But I hope getting out the word will be an advantage for Jeff.”

Retrieved from The State newspaper. Reach Senior Writer Bob Gillespie at (803) 771-8304.

HOW TO NOMINATE

On Thursday:

Log on to www.SteveHarvey.com

Fill out the nomination form.

Submit it.