High school football | commentary

Baxter: Who’ll replace Bentley at Byrnes?

February 26, 2014 

THIS HAS BEEN a big week on the state coaching carousel, highlighted by Byrnes coach Bobby Bentley resigning to take a position at Auburn.

This will be Bentley’s second collegiate job. A brief stint as head coach at Presbyterian ended with his return to Byrnes. This time I believe is a different situation.

With Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashslee’s popularity and success, he is becoming a hot commodity on the coaching market. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn could have Bentley penciled in as the Tigers’ next offensive coordinator, should Lashlee leave.

Bentley has said in the past that the only way he would go back to the collegiate ranks would be as a coordinator. And with his youngest son, Jake, holding an offer from the Tigers, it would be a good situation for him.

Now the question is, who does Byrnes go after to fill this job?

Two who fit the bill would be Dutch Fork’s Tom Knotts and Northwestern’s Kyle Richardson.

Knotts is one of the best coaches in the state and could take Byrnes to an even higher level. Richardson would be a great selection, too, as he has proven himself as a coach, and has an innovative offensive mind like Bentley.

But I don’t look for the hire to be either of those guys. Look for Byrnes to hire someone with a Byrnes connection. Jeff Tate of Wren or Brian Lane of Woodruff should get calls. Don’t count out a young, unproven coach with ties. Former Rebel quarterback Trey Elder, currently at Western Carolina, could be a guy that Byrnes would be willing to take a chance on.

But Byrnes isn’t the only job on the market. With Dan Pippen accepting the Greenwood job, the North Augusta position is open. There will be a lot of interest in that job. Two coaches whose names continue to surface are Hartsville’s Jeff Calabrese and Williston-Elko’s Dwayne Garrrick.

Lake City is open, but have their final three candidates with Terrell Fleming of South Florence, Wayne Farmer, and Thomas Balkcom from Georgia.

The Stratford coaching job was vacated with Ray Stackley’s retirement announcement last week. That job is expected to be filled from within staff.

Carolina Forest appears to be down to a final candidate.

The coaching jobs at Rock Hill, Crestwood, St. James, Travelers Rest, Whitmire, Ninety Six and McCormick are open. I look for Crestwood to be a hire from within with a separation of the athletics director job.

Ninety Six is rumored to have contacted their former longtime coach Mike Doolittle, though former T.L. Hanna coach Scott Parker has been on that staff as an assistant and has been contacted.

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