GARY GAINES IS ONE OF A KIND
By mark rogers
April 15, 2011
I played for Coach Gary Gaines one year at ACU. It was the Spring and Fall of 2000. We were excited when he was named coach because of his Friday Night Lights fame and his past success.
We had some really great talent on that team (excluding me) but had a ton of injuries that first spring. I was a LB but was moved to DE that spring because we didn't have enough warm bodies on the line. There were several practices that many of us had to run with the 1s and 2s all practice. Gaines rode us hard, but we made it through a strong group.
We came back from the summer and got hit head on with a pretty intensive eye opener. Gaines made us run timed miles for our fitness tests. My group had to run a sub-6 minute mile, something I don't think I had ever done at that point (why would I have?). I did it in 5:59 and had groin and hamstring strains the rest of 2-a-days and fall practice. I couldn't sleep comfortably for two weeks.
We actually didn't do 2-a-days...we did 3-a-days with an evening practice thrown in there.
Our season ended 1-9. We lost 6 games by a total...a TOTAL of 8 points. 15-13, 31-30, 10-9, etc...if we had made our extra points, we would have tied for the conference championship in Gaines' first year. But our kicker was a head case and we were a laughing stock.
That was my last year. I'll never forget "resigning" from football. I typed a note on a piece of paper and went into Gaines' office. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I didn't want to stop playing, but life circumstances forced me to...turned out for the good looking back, but it was hard at the time. Gaines was disappointed but understood. I had to type the note out because I knew I wouldn't be able to say the words to his face.
I played for some pretty good coaches, but I'd have to say he was my favorite...the one who had the greatest influence on me.
I stayed in touch with Coach the following years through my employment at KTXS, but I haven't spoken to him since he left six years ago...until Wednesday.
He's back at Permian as the head coach - after brief stints as Ector AD and Lubbock AD - and I went by there to catch up.
He's got a huge office (built by Coach Allman two years ago) filled with trophies, pictures, signed footballs and some other things that probably belong in a high school football museum somewhere.
It's been 22 years since that 1989 season that ended with Gaines and the Panthers hoisting the state championship trophy. Gaines looks a little different...little less hair and just a few more wrinkles...but he's still the same man.
Sharp mind, lean build, huge heart.
He showed me around the new indoor complext (about 4 years old). It's absolutely incredible...huge. But Gaines said the greatest facilities in the world don't matter if you don't have the right players with the right heart and talent. He's right.
Permian didn't win a district game last year and Gaines knows that has to change. Only problem is they'll only start about eight seniors next year and didn't fare too well at the district track meet, so they'll be young and "slow". Slow in quotes because when compared to the average bear, his guys are probably lightning fast...we're just comparing to the ridiculous speed that Abilene High has right now.
But if there's anybody who can right that ship and get Permian back to winning ways, it's Gary Gaines. He'll have the support of the community and a few decades of experience to back him up.
But he said one thing to me Wednesday that rang out loud and true - that when you look back through the years and start remembering things and funny stories and games and events...the wins and losses aren't what come shining through. It's the people. The relationships.
That's the way Gaines coaches. That's they way he ultimately wins.
A great man with a great story and a great opportunity to continue adding on to that story in the years to come.
And we all get front row seats.
« CASE MAKING A CASE!!
ACU GOING DIVISION 1? »