Annual Gulf Coast coaches clinic underway

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

BILOXI — It seems like it just ended with Picayune hoisting the Class 5A state championship title for the second time in three seasons, but prep football season has arrived again.

Well, sort of.

The 51st annual Gulf Coast Coaches Clinic got underway here at The Beau Rivage Wednesday night. The three day event, one of the most well respected events of its type in the South annually, wraps up Friday afternoon.

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The affair, which this year is sponsored by Nike, has annually been regarded as the unofficial beginning of prep football in Mississippi because as many as 600 coaches from across the Gulf South region are expected to attend.

“We enjoy attending the clinic as a staff, we always seem to carry something away from it that is beneficial to us,” veteran Picayune head coach Dodd Lee said. “It’s always good to see how other coaches do things and expose our staff to different ideas.”

This year’s list of speakers is one of the more impressive in the history of the event. Georgia head coach Mark Richt, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will be among the featured speakers.

Pinkel will be speaking Friday at 9 a.m. in the Magnolia Room. He will be followed by Richt at 10:30 a.m. They will be the final two speakers of the clinic.

Fedora, who coached at Southern Miss before going to North Carolina, was originally slated to kick off the clinic by speaking Wednesday night. However, he got snowed in in Chapel Hill and University of South Alabama head Joey Jones replaced him. Late Wednesday afternoon, officials with the clinic were attempting to reschedule Fedora’s appearance.

Swinney, who will speak on the role of the wide receiver in the Clemson offense, will speak at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.

“This is our 51st year,’’ clinic director Lindy Callahan said. “We have 500 preregistered coaches and that does not include those coaches who walk up. We have six coaches from California who are coming for the clinic.

“We have 35 vendors. There are five general sessions and seven breakout sessions. This is the first year we’ve partnered with Nike and we are excited about it.’’

Motivational speaker Mike Gottfried of Mobile also spoke Wednesday night, talking about “Coaching Your Coaches.’’ During his long career, Gottfried coached at Murray State, Cincinnati, Kansas and Pittsburgh.

As usual, the clinic will have a local flavor as well. Pearl River Community College head coach William Jones will be one of the featured speakers today, as will his defensive coordinator Willie Mack Garza.

Other notable speakers at this year’s event are Will Hall (West Alabama head coach), Robert Matthews (South Alabama offensive coordinator and line coach), Rick Stewart (Fresno, Calif., HS head coach), Ronnie Cottrell (Tallahassee, Fla. Godby HS head coach), Brad Peterson (Brandon HS head coach) and Terry Curtis (Mobile UMS-Wright head coach).