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January 5, 2011
David McNabb,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.
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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.)
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.