June 15, 2010 11:43:00 AM
Bubba Davis always said if he could get up every day and go to a job he enjoyed he would coach for as long as possible.
That was no longer the case for Davis at Columbus High School. As a result, the Falcons are looking for a new football coach.
On Monday, Davis officially announced his retirement as Columbus High's football coach. He met with his players and assistant coaches and told them his decision didn't have anything thing to do with them.
"I am to the point I don't have a whole lot of contact with my principal, and what little I have I don't enjoy working with him," said Davis, 62, referring to Columbus High School principal Craig Shannon. "There is no reason to get up and not enjoy myself and go over there."
Davis said his ideas and Shannon's ideas "aren't the same" and that he didn't have a "major" issue with Shannon. He said his decision to retire stemmed from "all of the little things" a professional deals with on a daily basis when you have to deal with people. He also thanked Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips for giving him and his assistant coaches an opportunity, all of the teachers at Columbus High for working hard and for doing a great job, and his players.
"The kids have done everything we have wanted them to do," Davis said. "They worked hard for two years. I feel we have them where we can win. We feel like we can compete with anybody they're going to play this fall. They're as strong a group of people I have ever had, and I have had some real strong teams."
Davis said he wasn't asked to leave Columbus High School and the fact he doesn't want to work at the school anymore played a significant part in a decision he said he made two to three weeks ago. He said he had been contemplating the possibilities when he concluded he needed to "go ahead and do it."
Attempts to reach Shannon on Monday night were unsuccessful.
Davis said his decision had nothing to do with being asked to assume a greater teaching load. He said what Dr. Phillips asked him to do for the 2010-11 school year "really was not more than what I had been doing." He said the responsibilities he had worked out with Dr. Phillips "would have been no problem" for him.
Davis' disappointment comes from not being able to lead the Falcons this season in what he believes could be a breakout year. Columbus went 1-10 in 2008 in Davis' first season. The Falcons were 3-8 last season and narrowly missed qualifying for the playoffs after moving from Class 5A to Class 6A in the state's reclassification.
Columbus plays in Region 1 with South Panola, the 2009 state champion, DeSoto Central, Horn Lake, Olive Branch, Southaven, Starkville, and Tupelo.
But through all of the growth in the football and powerlifting programs, Davis said it was difficult for him to get past the lack of fun in his job.
Davis, who coached at West Point from 1974-93 and won four state titles (1982, '87, '88, and '89) and also coached at Wayne County, Walker County in Jasper, Ala., Petal and New Albany, said Columbus High "has been the toughest place I have ever coached." He said it was challenging to change a mind-set of a group of players and in a community that hasn't had a lot of success in football.
The Falcons' last winning season was 6-5 in 2007 under coach Daryl Jones, who is the head football coach at Callaway High School. Columbus has had five winning seasons and made the playoffs four times since becoming the consolidation of Lee and Caldwell in 1992.
"This group of coaches has worked as hard as I have ever seen, and to win four games in two years has been hard," Davis said. "In spite of not winning, the coaches and I have enjoyed each other and gone out and worked hard. I hate to do it, but for me it is time for me to do something else. It is hard enough the way things are today, but if you can't enjoy going up there, you don't need to go.
"It has been a joy to see how far they have really come since we started with them. I would love to see them win every ballgame this year. They don't understand how close they are to doing that."
The Columbus Municipal School District announced Davis' retirement Monday at its meeting. In the press release, the school district praised Davis for his hard work and dedication in helping to build the football program.
"Coach Davis is a man of integrity," Phillips said in a statement. "He demonstrated the benefits of hard work and responsible behavior in life and in the game of football. We are grateful for coach Davis to his contributions to our football program, district, and to our community."
Said Columbus athletic director Rusty Greene in a statement, "We hate to see coach Davis leave. He has been a proven winner everywhere he has coached, and he was making great strides turning our football program around. The coaching staff and players have been working extremely hard in the room. I believe the next coach at Columbus will be excited about the physical conditioning and the attitude of our players. We thank coach Davis for his dedication to the Falcon football program."
The school district will accept applications for the job as head football coach June 15-22. A committee of community members and school district administrators will review the applications and select candidates to be interviewed. Those interviews are anticipated to begin June 25. The committee then will recommend a candidate to the superintendent. It is anticipated the new coach will assume his new job July 1 or on a date mutually agreed upon by the school district and the individual.
Davis said Monday night he would submit his paperwork officially announcing his retirement today.
Davis said he didn't recommend anyone to replace him as head coach. But he also said there are two talented and qualified candidates -- Grady McCluskey and Tony Stanford -- on his staff.
McCluskey, who played for Davis at West Point High, served as offensive coordinator the past two seasons. He resigned from a job as head football coach at Franklin County to come to Columbus. McCluskey worked for six years at Franklin County, the final three as head coach. He guided the team to the Class 3A state title game in 2006 and 2007, and won the championship in 2006. He also coached for one season at West Point High and with Davis at Walker (Ala.) High School.
McCluskey said he will miss coaching with Davis and that he thought he had done some good stuff at Columbus.
"He has been a great mentor," McCluskey said. "He has been around for 40 years and seen a lot. I think it is just a shame. I think we have it going in the right direction. Everyone in 7 on 7 (passing league) is telling us we're going in the right direction. He is just a good Christian guy. I understand the circumstances that led him to get out of it. He really has been level headed and a down-to-earth person. Maybe to a fault he sees the good in everybody, and he has tried to help the kids in every way he could."
Stanford, who worked the past two seasons as defensive coordinator, is another coach with experience. He has coached at Kosciusko, Louisville, Carroll Academy, Lumberton, Neshoba Central, Philadelphia, Morton, and Choctaw Central. He has worked as a head coach at Louisville, Philadelphia, Morton, and Choctaw Central high schools, winning a state championship at Louisville.
"He is the top-rated coach in the state of Mississippi," Stanford said. "He has accomplished as much as anybody I can think of. I think a lot of it has to do his religious beliefs. He tries to get that across to the kids. He really gains their respect and they want to play hard for him."
Davis credited McCluskey and Stanford for helping to change the mentality in the program and for their hard work in transforming the program into a stronger and smarter group.
"In my opinion, I have as good of a group of coaches as there is in the state of Mississippi," Davis said. "Coach McCluskey and coach Stanford are the ones who have done all
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
tell the truth commented at 6/15/2010 2:46:00 PM:
It would have been nice to see Bubba be a man about the situation. Everybody knows Shannon does not make a move without Philips permission. Shannon does his dirty work. You did not want to teach those 3 history classes you and your staff were madder than 3 wet hens. Philip gave the ok on that move and you know it. Wonder how long Shannon is going to be Philip's puppet? No amount of money is worth your integrity. "Sins of the father might be visited upon the sons".
gc6 commented at 6/15/2010 2:57:00 PM:
Ha haaaaa. Way to go Coach Davis; I'm sure that there are alot of CHS teachers/coaches living vicariously through you right now. (I know I am.) Way to tell it like it is.
bsmith123 commented at 6/15/2010 10:39:00 PM:
Okay let's not kid ourself here. Look at the record. This is 6A football folks. This is the big time for Mississippi. Losing records in two seasons, and the writing was on the wall this year. Breakout season? Jailbreak maybe. Davis, I think meant well, and in some point in time was a good coach. However, his time had passed him over. I can imagine, he also didn't want to take on the extra responsiblily with the budget cuts. I wouldn't either if I was almost retired and my foot was out. I'm sure he was not the only one, but I bet his coaches were raising hell if they received new assignments and responsibilities. The last part of this is to look at his program compared to other top programs in the state. Your players have to be disciplined inside the classroom and outside. Some of them were neither. He didn't care what his players' grades or behavior was in the class. Ask one of the teachers at Columbus High. And from what I hear they had a special program in place so his players would pass, but that is speculation. HELP! Columbus football program needs a leader do not hire someone from the inside. Look for someone with a new perspective and long term views.
black eagle commented at 6/15/2010 11:26:00 PM:
They do have a program it is called Extended Day. If you have a 60 you could do some work left by the teachers and your grade would move to a 70. Everyone on the football team that was failing was there and the kicker is that the program cost 100.00 but according to the players, Bubba was suppose to have paid the fee. You go figure. Yes the writing is on the wall. How can a team be on the 20 four times and never score? This is what happened when they went and hid in Alabama for the Spring game. The sad thing about it is that the other team was smaller than Columbus. We are getting ready to get the shaft, word was when McClusky and Bubba first got here Bubba was going to do a couple of years and then retire and McClusky was going to inherit the team. Do you see the plan unfolding??? Phil is smooth or so he thinks.
ready4achange commented at 6/16/2010 11:09:00 AM:
I agree with the kids needing to be disciplined in and out of the classroom. Many of the boys on the team seem more interested in getting high than scoring a TD! I don't know much about Bubba Davis as this would have been my child's first yr experience under him. If this Extended Day program existed, then it's a crying shame that one of the "star" backs is sitting in summer school as we speak..that he didn't have to pay for! There are some good boys on this team; character-wise and athletically. This town needs a coach that will rule with an iron fist and not give "passes" to those that don't comply with rules set in place...no matter the talent they possess! I agree with Coach Davis on how this town views our football program. No one believes in these boys! What happened to supporting your team..no matter what? Pessimistic attitudes (like the comment above "breakout season, jailbreak maybe) over success have waivered over onto the players themselves...they expect to lose. I do believe he turned some things around but the town HAS GOT TO GET BEHIND THIS TEAM! With the success of the park league teams, you will consistantly see better teams from Columbus as these boys are learning what winning and being a team is all about! But again, they need a strong leader to guide them on.
A beautiful garden will surely die out if you don't get rid of the weeds!
Aberdeen is implementing a drug testing program...why not Columbus? If there is not a standard to uphold, why would anyone want to attain it?
tell the truth commented at 6/16/2010 12:03:00 PM:
Ready4achange you are so correct, but the football program was headed in a good direction when Jones was here. He would check the players grades regularly and visit the classrooms. If you did not want to follow his rules and get your grades you could not play for him until you got it together. There were no locker room fights, drugs, drive bys. A teacher could tell him about one of his players and he would sit in that class and watch the players and made the necessary adjustments to get the player on track. Then the new adminstration came in and ran him off. Of course he was given an excuse to tell the people, "I am going to be with my family". THe term is extended day it is for 2 days. There is no summer school because the teachers did not want to deal with Shannon.
whsvike01 commented at 6/24/2010 6:49:00 PM:
From what I am reading on here, none of you took the time to get to know Coach Davis. Have you ever been around him while he was with the kids? Have you been at a practice or on the sideline with him? Yea, he's an intense coach..but he pushes these kids to levels that he knows they are capable of. I have seen him work first hand when I was in high school and within the last couple of months. He loves the young men he coaches, past and present. He encourages them to be the best on and off the field and in the classroom. He was constantly in the classes checking on his athletes with their teachers and disciplining them in the proper manners when need be. He teaches them how to be leaders, and lives the Christian life in front of them. When he coaches a team, he puts his all into those kids. He not only coaches them at football but also coaches them in life. He is a man of integrity! So to see all of you bash him breaks my heart and upsets me. Coach Davis has influenced me and my classmates to be better students, athletes and people. Thanks Bubba for everything you have done for me and everyone here in Jasper! We love and miss you!!