Franklin County coach resigns

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MEADVILLE – The office is empty now and the seasons only a memory for former Franklin County head football coach Grady McCluskey. The three-year coach of the Bulldogs resigned from his post Tuesday morning to take a new job in Columbus as offensive coordinator under new Columbus coach Bubba Davis.

McCluskey went a combined 32-8 during his three years as head coach at Franklin High. He led the Bulldogs to back-to-back State Championship appearances in 2006 and 2007, winning the crown in 2006.

“It’s been great here, and I enjoyed my time and the kids here at Franklin County,” said McCluskey. “Another opportunity presented itself to me Sunday night, and I thought about it, and felt it was the right decision for me and my family.”

Email newsletter signup

The move leaves the Bulldogs searching for a new head coach for the third time in the last six years. McCluskey spent six seasons with the Bulldogs, the first three years as an assistant under current Lafayette County head football coach Anthony Hart from 2002-2004. He took over for Hart in March of 2005.

“It’s a shock for us,” Franklin County Superintendant of Education Grady Fleming said. “The plan (coaching search) right now is to take it slow and to make sure we get the right person to pick up where we left off.”

The Bulldogs went 12-3 this season and 14-1 last year. They have won the last two Class 3A South State Championships, and will be the favorite again next year with a load of talent coming back.

“I leave the program a lot better than when I took over,” said McCluskey. “I’m proud of the success we’ve had here. I wish them luck, there’s a lot of talent here.”

Several Franklin County players were shocked to hear that their head coach was leaving. Many could not understand why.

“I feel kind of bad,” said sophomore defensive tackle Bobby O’Quinn. “My mom was sad to hear he was leaving, and everybody on the team was getting mad when they found out. It’s really big news to everybody in Franklin County.”

Being closer to his family and a substantial salary increase were two of the main reasons McCluskey noted for his leaving 3A Franklin County for 5A Columbus. He plans to report to Columbus some time this week.

A 1987 West Point High graduate, McCluskey will reunite with his former coach Bubba Davis at Columbus. Davis was McCluskey’s head coach in high school.

“I’ll get to coach under my former head coach up there,” added McCluskey. “It’s a 5A job, so it’s a pretty good raise. I know the Supt of Education (Dr. Del Phillips) up there and I know Coach Davis. So I know they will look out for me. It’s a good situation.”

Davis coached at West Point from 1974-93, winning four state championships in 1982, 1987, 1988, and 1989 respectfully. He served as head coach at New Albany last year before taking the Columbus job last week.

“He (Grady) coached with me at Wayne County and over in Alabama,” Davis said. “I know what he’s capable of doing. He’s a good young coach that’s proven himself.”

Upon Franklin County school board approval of his release, McCluskey hopes to report to Columbus sometime this week. The board meets tonight.

“If I get released tonight, I’ll be up there in the morning,” said McCluskey as he cleaned out his office. “I’ve really enjoyed it here. I’ve really enjoyed the kids and my coaching staff. It’s just a move I had to make for myself and my family. It’s part of coaching.”

A search for McCluskey’s successor at Franklin County will begin right away. Several area coaches are expected to apply. The Bulldogs will return 9 starters on offense and 7 on defense next season.

“Somebody’s going to be getting a good team,” added McCluskey. “A really good team.”