Interviews began Wednesday to find a new South Garland coach with Garland ISD athletic director Homer Johnson saying there are about 60 to 75 applicants he's paring down in hopes of having a replacement for Keith Wright before the end of the month.
Candidates within the Garland ISD will be interviewed but one thing the venerable Johnson has shown is that his searches are usually successful and can go anywhere.
There have been direct and indirect inquiries into the interest of Richardson coach Brent Whitson and Carrollton Newman Smith coach Paul Ressa, who have turned around longtime floundering programs but have not been big on making the interviewing circuit the last few years and indications are they are not going to get involved in the process.
South Garland attracted strong candidates to replace Mickey Moss (lured to Rockwall Heath). The job was first offered to former Graham coach Brad McCoy, who eventually turned down the position and left Graham after the '09 season to become a motivational speaker.
Former Midland Lee coach Randy Quisenberry was a finalist as well but withdrew. Quisenberry left Lee after the ISD was disenchanted with an incident in which Quisenberry was accused of kicking a student in the back of the student's baggy pants.
Quisenberry has been an assistant at Smithson Valley and doesn't appear to be a candidate but former Garland coach Joe Martin's sons play at Smithson Valley with Martin now at the THSCA so that could be a connection to watch.
Wright was hired after winning the 2007 Class 2A Division I state title at Farmersville in an upset of highly favored Tatum. Wright played at the University of Memphis and had three full seasons NFL with the Cleveland Browns as a receiver and kick returner. He earned All-Pro recognition with the Browns in 1979. The Hidalgo County native turns 55 this month _ but with recent increases in NFL pension plans _ combined with a few health problems hampering the demanding schedule required of a 5A head coach, and Wright decided to build a lakeside home and retire.
Of course, Wright's hiring is one of Johnson's many successful coaching hires with a good story to go along with it.
"We offered Keith the South Garland job but he said he wanted the job but wouldn't take it because he didn't want to be a second choice (behind McCoy)," Johnson said. "I called him just to get him in the office and thought we could talk him into it. Well, we couldn't but just as Keith was leaving (Garland ISD superintendent) walked in the door. He put his around Keith and said he was always his first choice but those two (guys) wanted someone else. Keith got tickled by that and started laughing and said he'd come."
Wright led South Garland to the state playoffs all three seasons with a bi-district title this past season. South Garland advanced three rounds in 2009. He announced his retirement after South Garland lost its second-round playoff game to Longview. South (8-4) had a first-round playoff victory over Lake Highlands.
Coaching search season
It's not uncommon for school district to wait until after the state playoffs and after the holiday break to get serious about full processes can be done by the end of January or early February. There's no conflicts created by having discussions with coaches (heads or assistants) after the playoffs.
Buda Hays is replacing 47-year icon Bob Shelton who announced his retirement after Hays lost to Kerrville Tivy in the first round of the playoffs after a 6-5 season. But Hays has applications open for AD/NC until Jan. 18 to get a better pool of candidates. Several on Shelton's staff are retiring as well and there likely will be many new faces at Shelton Stadium next season.
Shelton, 69, had only one losing season in his final 25 years at Hays. One of just eight coaches in Texas high school football history to reach 300 career victories, Shelton closes the book at 313-187-7. He opened the school in '68 and coached at the same school longer than anyone in the history of high school football in Texas. Hays' best season was reaching the 1996 Class 4A, Division I championship game won by Grapevine (34-19.)
Manziel: Aggies QB or Receiver this spring?
Being around the Aggies, lots of discussion of what to do with Class 4A Player of Year Johnny Manziel, who has plans to graduate early from Kerrville Tivy and enroll at A&M for the spring semester. Manziel is coming off incredible season/career and rave reviews at an All-star game in Charleston, S.C. last week.
The 6-1, 195-pound Manziel doesn't fit the QB mold that Aggies coach Mike Sherman seems to like with 6-4 junior starter Ryan Tannehill and 6-4, 230-pound freshman Matt Joeckel signed last season.
Manziel, an elusive, more quick-than-fast athlete, actually caught 30 passes at Tivy and he might get on the field first next season as a receiver.
A&M has shown it can be creative by using Tannehill at receiver before he finally took over for sore-shouldered senior Jerrod Johnson who couldn't get momentum and health going after many expected Johnson to be the Big 12's top QB heading into the season.
Manziel, who originally committed to Oregon this summer, switched to A&M after the Aggies' made an offer following the first week of the high school season and 6-4 dual-threat A&M offer Brett Hundley committed to UCLA.
While Manziel wowed www.theoldcoach.com at combines (check the database for Manziel winning several top camp MVP awards) and looked like Chase Daniel (different style) but similar in that he was being underestimated by Texas college recruiters.
In three years as a starter, Manziel completed 520 of 819 passes (63.5 percent) for 7,626 yards and 76 touchdowns. He also has rushed 531 times for 4,045 yards and 77 touchdowns. He caught 30 passes for 582 yards and five touchdowns.
Separated at birth? DeRuyter-McGraw
Interviewing Texas A&M first-year defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter this week at the Cotton Bowl. It's easy to see whay everyone has been so impressed. He's candid, has presence and a good communicator.
Not to mention the results in turning around an awful Aggies' defense.
DeRuyter looks an awful like country singer Tim McGraw to me and if Faith Hill starts hanging around College Station _ I'm angling for that Aggies beat.