Jackson steps down as OC football coach

Jackson steps down as OC football coach
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Sports Editor
Shawn Jackson delivered the news to his team this morning that had been rumored for two years now.
He’s leaving the Obion County Central High School football program.
The Rebel head coach the past five seasons, Jackson told his squad he was resigning those duties effective immediately.
“My big deal is that you’re either getting better or you’re not, and I don’t feel like I’m getting better as a coach here,” Jackson told The Messenger this morning. “The past year, I feel like I’ve been a jack-of-all trades and the master of none, because I’ve had to do so many things.
“The past five years I’ve been focused on getting the fieldhouse fixed up, hiring coaches, trying to get the junior high programs in better shape. I’m not into all of that. I’m not a politician. I was very naive in thinking I could do everything. I’ve not gotten to do the X’s and O’s nearly as much, and that’s what I love.”
With multiple experience as an assistant coach on the prep level in Missouri and Arkansas, and having worked as a college aide as well, Jackson said he did not have another job lined up. He did admit he’d talked with prospective employers.
“People call. I will start the process of looking for another job,” he said. “I have some opportunities to do some things at some other places. I would really like to go to someplace where football is more important, where there’s more interest. I don’t want to rip the kids off, and I don’t want to be here when my mind is somewhere else. I want to do things the right way.”
OCCHS Athletic Director Craig Rogers said the process of hiring a new coach would begin immediately.
“We appreciate all Shawn has done for our program and we’ll look for a similar-type individual with the passion and work ethic that he has when we hire our next coach,” he told the paper just before press time. “We’ll begin that search immediately and I expect the position to attract a lot of interest. I think the job is a good gig, and think we’ll have a lot of applicants.”
Jackson, whose name has been mentioned in several coaching circles the past two seasons, posted a 22-32 during his tenure at Central. Sandwiched between a winless first season and a 2-8 worksheet this past fall were three consecutive playoff years — including a record-setting 2011 campaign in which Central won a state playoff game for just the second time in the 51-year history of the program.
In that season, the Rebels tied a school mark with nine victories and practically rewrote the offensive record book at OCCHS behind the passing of all-state quarterback Trey Phipps and likewise-decorated running back LaDevin Fair.
OC went 6-5 in 2009 with a first-round playoff loss to Memphis Fairley, and then 5-6 the following season with a Round 1 postseason exit vs. Ripley.
Jackson arrived in Troy in February 2008 and became the 14th head football coach at Obion Central. His hiring followed an especially tumultuous time in the program as Mark Walton had resigned barely 72 hours after agreeing to take over the reins, citing “public unrest” when two local candidates were passed over for the job.
Central had gone winless the year before Jackson’s arrival.
“We became respectable in my time here, and I’m proud of that,” he said. “You always want to feel like you can compete. Before I got here, I don’t think that was the case.
“I’m proud that we made the playoffs three straight years, and I’m humbled with how well I’ve been treated by everybody — especially The Messenger.”
Rogers said “all candidates would be considered,” but said no assistant currently on the staff had expressed an interest in the position.
The OCCHS administrator said those aides would be in charge of the Rebels’ offseason program until a new coach is in place.
He had no time frame for  when that might be.
“That’s a Catch 22 … we want to get started immediately looking, but we want it to be the right person,” Rogers insisted. “As soon as we identify that person, we’ll go after them and look to hire them quickly.”
Jackson’s decision to step down marked the second time in as many days an Obion County football coach had resigned, following Kelly Spivey’s move on Tuesday.
Jackson said he would stay on at OCCHS as a teacher — possibly through the end of the school year — or until he took another job.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens may be contacted by email at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 11.28.12

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