I’ve often wondered where high school football coaches received their college education. How many went to MTSU? How many are graduates of Tennessee Tech? How many followed their high school gridiron careers at Austin Peay?
What schools rank highest among current head football coaches in the Volunteer State? And why did so many coaches attend those particular schools? Was it a matter of geography?
Did they go to a particular college or university simply because it was located near their hometown? Or was it because they were destined to become a teacher and selected a particular school because of its track record for turning out educators?
Maybe these future coaches chose a particular college or university because of a scholarship offer due to their talent on the field as a player?
I figured the best way to find out where they went to college was to simply ask them.
So this past spring, I added a question to my annual survey of coaches regarding their college education.
MTSU, the state’s largest undergraduate institution of higher education, led the list.
Nearly 14 percent of the 245 coaches who responded to my question received their undergraduate diploma in Murfreesboro.
Former Blue Raiders on the list include Blackman’s Philip Shadowens, Cannon County’s Brent Bush, Eagleville’s Steve Carson, Gordonsville’s Ron Marshall, Siegel’s Greg Wyant and Watertown’s Gavin Webster.
Cookeville’s Tennessee Tech was the second highest choice of coaches.
More than 10 percent of responding coaches received their college education in Cookeville.
Area coaches on the Golden Eagle list include Friendship Christian’s John McNeal, Jackson County’s Sean Loftis, Livingston Academy’s Bruce Lamb, Monterey’s Billy Heady, Oakland’s Thomas McDaniel, Riverdale’s Ron Aydelott, Smith County’s Jimmy Maynord and Upperman’s Ben Herron.
Other schools of higher education where high school coaches received their degrees and how many coaches are alums include Austin Peay State University (16), UT-Knoxville (13), Memphis (12), East Tennessee State University (11), UT-Martin (9), UT-Chattanooga (9), Carson Newman (7), Union University (6), Cumberland University (5), Lambuth (5) and University of North Alabama (5).
But the biggest surprise regarding the college education of high school football coaches in Tennessee dealt with mentors who were educated somewhere outside the confines of our state borders.
Nearly 25 percent of the coaches who answered the higher education question received their diplomas from colleges or universities outside the State of Tennessee.
Here are a few examples. I’m betting there are at least two or three schools on this list that you’ve never heard of before.
Mike Mizer (Columbia Academy) – Missouri State (formerly SW Missouri State).
Bruce Lussier (Father Ryan) – Central Connecticut State.
Brandon Clark (Houston Co.) – Oakland City University (Indiana).
Kevin Goltra (Kenwood) – Western Governor’s University (on-line).
Jeff Morris (Milan) – Southern Missouri State.
David Meske (Knoxville Webb) – Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Billy Barnhart (Whitwell) – MidAmerican Nazarene (Kansas).
Murphy Fair has published TENNESSEE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL for 25 years. His syndicated radio show (Murphy’s Matchups) can be heard Monday evenings at 8 o’clock on WGNS, AM-1450 & FM 100.5.