Keeping up with the coaches
DCTF's Greg Tepper takes a look at the bevy of coaching moves -- both high school and college -- across the state.
Here at the DCTF office, we’ve officially reached the Production Time, the time of the year when 80% of our waking hours will be dedicated toward putting together the 2012 Summer Edition – the 53rd edition of the bible of Texas football.
We’ve been on the horn with coaches across the state at a pretty good pace over the past couple of weeks, and the questionnaires that we send each coach in the state continue to roll in (thanks for getting it to us, Kaufman coach Todd York and hundreds of others!).
In any event, while we’re settling into the groove of putting together this magazine – and trust me: we’ll only go more and more crazy as the summer deadline approaches – we’re doing our best to keep up with all of the huge amount of changes going on across the state, especially in the coaching realm. The best way to stay on top of all of our news alerts is on our Twitter feed, @DCTF.
And over the past few days, there have been a number of big coaching changes to discuss – and the best way to do it, considering the production of the magazine, is to lump them together here into one big coaching news roundup!
So, on with the news!
-If high school football programs were stocks, Austin LBJ would be one you want to buy. After largely miring in mediocrity (or worse) for the better part of the last decade, the Jaguars turned it around under coach Demo Odems, culminating last season when they won their first outright district championship since 1995. But Odems has gone, accepting an assistant coaching job at Montana State University, and Austin ISD last week announced the hiring of former Marlin coach Keith Willis to replace him. Willis spent the last three seasons at 2A Marlin, going 14-20 in that time and winning a pair of playoff games with the Bulldogs. Before that, Willis, 46, was Lago Vista’s first football coach. The onus will now be on him to keep the Jaguars’ momentum going.
-El Paso has been undergoing a serious facelift in the past couple of weeks. First came the news El Paso Coronado coach Don Brooks was leaving his post after a whopping 35 years with the T-Birds, winning 229 games and making the playoffs 21 times. Now, El Paso Jefferson has a new coach, as the Silver Foxes have promoted defensive coordinator Jim Clark to replace the outgoing Pete Euzarraga. Perhaps the name Jim Clark is familiar to our El Paso fans; that’s because before coming to Jefferson two years ago, he was a key assistant on Mike Price’s staff at both UTEP and Washington State, spending 1996-2002 and 2004-2009 with Price, focusing on the secondary. Now Clark will be a head coach for the first time, and he’ll be tasked with turning around a Silver Foxes program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2005 and hasn’t made the playoffs in 21 years.
-Tim Finn is proof that you can’t keep a good coach down. Back in December, Finn stepped down from his head coaching position after 11 seasons at Texas City, staying on as the school’s athletic director. Just three short months later, Finn is a head coach (and athletic director) again, accepting the job at Wharton, a spot vacated when coach Brad Wright left for Waller after just one season. Finn has a strong résumé, with all of it coming with the Stingarees: an assistant coach from 1991-2000 under Rusty Dowling, including two state championships, before taking the job himself when Dowling left for a job in McKinney. In his 11 years at the helm, Texas City went 66-50, notching a pair of district championships but finishing just 4-6 last season. The job he’s taking is an interesting one: Wharton went just 4-6 last year, but qualified for the playoffs and pushed into the 3A regional semifinals. Finn’s experience will be paramount to Wharton’s success.
-Speaking of coaching vacancies, the job at Iraan is now open after John Fellows is out as football coach after being reassigned within the district. The move comes as a surprise, really: Fellows was 47-15 in five seasons with the Braves, earning at least a share of the district championship every year. There may be more to this story – Fellows was quoted by the Odessa American as being “really surprised” by the move – and we’ll keep you posted when we get more details.
-There is not a hiring to report at Denison yet…but we’re getting close, and the names being reported by the Sherman Herald-Democrat as finalists for the position are astounding. According to the SH-D, there were three finalists for the position left open when Cody White stepped down for a position in Tennessee after five seasons. Those finalists: Mesquite Poteet coach Randy Jackson, Snyder coach Chad Rogers and Spring Dekaney coach Willie Amendola. Whoa. Those are some heavy hitters. Jackson was DCTF’s 2010 Class 4A Coach of the Year after turning Poteet from winless in 2009 into a state semifinalist in 2010. Rogers is the all-time winningest coach at 3A Snyder, holding a 96-40 record in 11 seasons and making the playoffs nine times in those 11 seasons. And Amendola…well heck, he’s the coach of the reigning Class 5A Division II state champions at Dekaney! Just yesterday, Jackson wrote on Twitter that he was staying at Poteet, presumably leaving just Rogers and Amendola for the job. Now, perhaps you’re wondering why these high-profile coaches are interested in a job like Denison, a program that’s won just five games in the last two seasons. The answer: tradition. The Yellowjackets are one of the more storied programs in the north Texas area, winning a state title in 1984 and becoming a perennial powerhouse over the course of three decades or so. It will be very interesting to see who ends up in Denison.
-And, of course, no coaching roundup would be complete without some college coaching news, and it’s potentially a very big deal. SMU announced yesterday that it has hired Bob Paclic to be its new offensive line coach. That might not sound like that big of a deal, until you realize that Paclic is one of college coaching’s very best line coaches. He comes to SMU from UCLA, where he spent four years as associate head coach for Rick Neuheisel. Prior to that, he was the offensive line coach at Wisconsin, coaching the likes of Gabe Carimi (eventual 2010 Outland Trophy winner)and Joe Thomas (eventual Outland Trophy winner and No. 3 overall pick). Before that, he spent 12 years in the NFL, coaching tight ends and offensive line for the Saints, Browns, Lions and Falcons. Prior to that, he worked with Johnathan Ogden (another eventual Outland Trophy winner) at UCLA after a spell with Ohio State. You see what I mean? Paclic is a potential game-changer on Mockingbird Lane.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.
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