T. McFerrin retired this week after a career that put him on the sidelines for 38 seasons as head coach. McFerrin won 340 games – fourth-most among Georgia coaches in history – and two state titles, his final one last month for Jefferson.
What is McFerrin’s place in Georgia coaching history? Can a case be made that h is the best coach in state history?
Don’t dismiss him too quickly. At the least, he’s had more success at more schools than any other coach.
Also, the three coaches whose names are most commonly mentioned as best coach in state history – Wright Bazemore, Nick Hyder and Larry Campbell – all won state titles at schools that had won state championships before they were hired.
McFerrin, who has built winners at eight schools, won state titles at Jefferson and Elbert County. He’s one of six coaches to win state titles at two schools that had never won state titles. (Jeff Herron is another, to name one.)
Other facts about McFerrin –
- McFerrin coached five different schools to the state semifinals. That’s a state record.
- McFerrin won region titles at seven of the eight Georgia schools that he coached. That’s a state record.
- McFerrin delivered seven of the eight to the state quarterfinals or better, also a state record. The only school that he failed to win a region title or make the quarters was Southeast Whitfield, which had its third-best season ever (7-3) in McFerrin’s only season there.
- The combined record of the eight schools that McFerrin has coached before hiring him is 34-46-1. Their record in the first year under McFerrin is 65-23-1.
Here is a look at McFerrin’s eight jobs and how the team’s record changed in his first season:
Lithonia: 1-9 to 8-1-1 (1968)
Forest Park: 7-3 to 9-2-1 (1971)
Peachtree: 2-7-1 to 10-1-1 (1976)
Southeast Whitfield: 1-9 to 7-3 (1984)
Tucker: 5-4-1 to 4-7 (1986)
Elbert County: 7-3 to 9-3 (1990)
South Gwinnett: 0-10 to 8-5 (1998)
Jefferson: 11-1 to 11-1 (2009)
Here are other coaches who might be in the discussion for best coach in state history. How would you rank them? Are there others?
- Wright Bazemore: Bazemore won a state-record 14 state championships and finished with a 265-51-7 record that spanned from 1941 through 1971, with a few years off for World War II.
- Larry Campbell: Campbell’s 470 victories rank third all-time nationally. He’s won 11 state titles at Lincoln County. He’ll be in his 42nd season as head coach this fall.
- Alan Chadwick: Marist’s coach since 1985, Chadwick has won two state titles and has a record of 311-55. His winning percentage (.850) ranks third in state history.
- Wayman Creel: With a 315-105-2 record, Creel was Georgia’s all-time most winning coach upon his death in 1990. He was one of the first coaches to win state titles at two schools. He did it at Northside of Atlanta (1957) and Lakeside (1970, 1972).
- Robert Davis: Davis’ record of 353-73-1 makes him the second most-winning coach in state history. He’s won more games in the highest classification than any other Georgia coach and won three state titles (1976, 1981 and 1988) and two national titles (1976, 1981).
- Shorty Doyal: Doyal was Georgia’s first famous head coach. His record is 193-72-24 over 27 seasons, during which he won nine state titles and made Boys’ High of Atlanta a vaunted program throughout the South.
- Nick Hyder: Hyder won seven state titles at Valdosta from 1974 to 1995 and finished with a 302-48-5 record. His winning percentage (.858) ranks No. 1 in state history. Hyder also was 53-12-3 at West Rome (1968-73).
- T. McFerrin: McFerrin’s 340-102-4 record puts him fourth-all time in victories for Georgia head coaches. He is one of six Georgia coaches to win the first state championships for two schools (Elbert County, Jefferson). He’s the only coach to lead five different schools to the state semifinals.
- Dan Pitts: Pitts made Mary Persons a state power during a nearly 40-year career (1959-1997) and retired in 1997 as the state’s all-time winningest coach at 346-109-4. His record was broken by Larry Campbell, who viewed the Lincolnton native Pitts as a major influence.