02/26/08 — Bryant leaves GC to take reigns at Havelock

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Bryant leaves GC to take reigns at Havelock

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 26, 2008 2:55 PM

HAVELOCK -- Greene Central officially lost its football coach Monday afternoon.

Another welcomed him with open arms.

Ironically, he'll stay a Ram.

Jim Bob Bryant, who enjoyed five successful seasons at Greene Central, was named the new head varsity coach at Havelock. The city's school board approved Bryant's appointment late last week.

"It's a football-first community and I'm not saying they don't support all athletics, but it's been forever looked at as a football town," said Bryant. "That enticed me to look at going there and becoming the next head football coach."

However, Havelock's recent success has been less than appetizing to a community that eats, sleeps and lives the sport.

The Rams have experienced an uncharacteristic three consecutive losing seasons under Charlie Smith. His teams compiled a 7-26 record, including a 6-15 worksheet in conference play, during that time.

Bryant guided Greene Central to 42 wins and Eastern Plains 2-A Conference titles in 2003 and 2005. The Rams accumulated 21 league victories and made five playoff appearances.

"We realize that when you're a young, successful coach, there is always a school out there wanting you to come help them," said Greene Central Principal Randy Bledsoe. "This was one of those situations where he felt like he needed to go. Jim Bob did a tremendous job and brought a lot of enthusiasm to our program.

"He worked well with our kids and was definitely an asset as far as getting kids involved ... made it fun for them."

Bledsoe expects to begin an immediate search for just the fourth head coach in Greene Central's 37-year history. Spence Grantham, whom Bryant replaced, posted 120 wins during 22 seasons. Stewart Smith collected 67 during a 10-year stretch.

Bledsoe plans to sit down with James "Rabbit" Fulghum, B.J. Bass and county athletics director Russell Brann. The quartet will determine the procedure and timeline for hiring a new coach.

"Our search starts immediately because our kids deserve the best," said Bledsoe.

Rumors surfaced of Bryant's departure nearly a month ago. Some players showed their emotion when the official announcement came, while others sat in silence.

"The hardest part is leaving the kids," said Bryant. "I've made some life-long friendships and relationships with them. I told them I plan to wake up every Saturday morning and look at the paper to see if Greene Central won on Friday night no matter where I am at the time."