What first attracted you to football?
As you can imagine we were brought up in a physically and mentally tough and rough environment. I found out about football around 5th grade from some other boys in school. I had never heard of football or a football team. One day as I was leaving school, I saw some of my friends basically running around in pads and hitting one another. The next day I asked them what they were doing and they told me about the school football team. So, I thought, you can run and hit people and not get in trouble? Sign me up! They got me connected with Coach “Duke” Shackleford and I was on the team. I wound up starting as a defensive back and wide receiver.
Is there a football coach who’s really influenced you and the way you coach?
My coaches, George Brint and Errol Hook, at Bolivar Junior High School. My head coach at Franklin High School in football and wrestling was Ray Dalton. He was tough and demanded all we had everyday. I liked that! I was always brought up around men and coaches that were physically, mentally and emotionally demanding people and those three attributes have served me well in my life. West Tennessee Legendary Coach Walter Kilzer hired me at OHA/USJ. He was not only an outstanding coaching mentor and friend but ‘Best Man’ in our wedding!
You’ve collected football memorabilia that now fills two rooms in your home. What are some of your favorites?
I have autographed pictures from a number of SEC coaches who have won SEC and national championships — Fulmer, Spurrier, Chizk, Meyer, and Saban. Outside the SEC, Coaches Bowden, Osborne, Brown, Gagliardi, Parcells, Shula, Landry, Walsh and Belichick. My very favorite items are the pictures, signed footballs and helmets of my former teams and players.
You have two daughters who were high school athletes. How different is it parenting girls who play sports than boys? Or is it?
All I can say, is we never pressured either of them to play or not to play sports. They both chose to play. Kristen, our oldest, was a cheerleader and competed in five National Championships for Houston High School in Germantown, Tennessee and the Memphis Elite All Stars. Our youngest, Jordan, was a very good softball and basketball player. Her softball team, Madison County Dixie Angels, won State and were ‘World Series Runner Ups’ in Eufalia, Alabama. She was a starter on a very good University School of Jackson basketball team and won the ‘Unsung Hero Award’ her junior and senior years for doing the tough work of the game (taking charges, steals, turnover points). The only stipulation we had for them was that if they were going to play, then play with an all out effort and do what their coaches asked them to do. In other words be coachable. I am proud to say they did both to the best of their abilities!
Do you have a favorite NFL team?
No, not really. I enjoy watching all NFL games from a coaches perspective, because those games are played at such a crisp, clean high level. I do enjoy watching the New England Patriots because of their ability to stay so consistent in playing at a high level over so many years while invariably rotating players on and off of their roster.