Brian Lane made history as Byrnes High’s football coach on his first day on the job.
The Rebels named Lane their new coach during a news conference Monday at the District 5 Fine Arts Center. He is the school’s first African-American football coach.
Lane has spent the past six years as coach at Woodruff. He led the Wolverines to the 2A Division I Upper State title and state runner-up finish in 2011.
Lane takes over for former Rebels coach Bobby Bentley, who accepted a position at Auburn in February. Byrnes finished 12-2, captured the Region II-4A title and reached the Division I state semifinal last year.
Lane’s job title is head football coach/assistant athletics director/social studies teacher. His salary will be $98,344 per year.
Lane is a former Byrnes quarterback. He threw for 5,068 yards and 53 touchdowns in the mid-1990s. He spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the Rebels. He said getting the nod to lead his alma mater is a blessing.
“It just shows you that when you’re in a tight-knit community that they want things to happen,” Lane said. “I understand what they’re looking for and what they want. I’ve been a part of it. I was here when we won four (state championships) in a row. I was on that staff. … I’m going to bring integrity. I’m going to bring class. I’m going to do everything that I can to make Byrnes High School be the best it can be in the nation.”
Lane experienced success during his tenure at Woodruff, posting a 56-21 record. He led the Wolverines to four region titles (2008-11) and two other 2A Upper State title appearances in 2008 and ’10, falling to Central both times.
Woodruff spent the past two seasons as a member of Region 3-3A, qualifying for the playoffs both years. It finished 5-6 last year.
Lane’s first head coaching position came at South Florence in 2007. He finished 2-9 in his only season there.
Byrnes principal Jeff Rogers told the audience attending the news conference that the school opened the search nationally for a new coach, but staying within the county was the best option.
“The best man was not very far away,” he said. “We have a saying around here, once a Rebel, always a Rebel.”
Lane said leaving Woodruff is bittersweet and he had positive remarks about his soon-to-be former school. His official full-time start date at Byrnes has not yet been set, but is expected to be in May.
“I want to thank the Woodruff community for giving me the opportunity to come through,” he said. “Six years I spent over there just grinding it out. We put together 56 wins in six years. We had 33 kids counting this year that had the opportunity to go off to school. It’s just been a blessed time.”
Lane met with the Woodruff team on Monday. He said saying goodbye was difficult.
“It was very emotional,” he said. “I guess I can say now that my former superintendent Dr. (Rallie) Liston, it was a credit of what (I’ve) done here. He said it would be a whole lot different if they had a party when (I) left. Some were angry, but I understand that because they are 16- or 17-year-old men. Most of them understood what was going on, but it was still tough.”
Woodruff athletics director Scott Lawson said the position for a new football coach has been posted. Applications will be accepted through the end of the week.
“We want to move as quickly as possible,” Lawson said. “At the same time, we want to find the best fit for the Woodruff Wolverines. Those that are planning to apply, I’m sure, have already gotten everything together to do so. Whether from a small school or large school, or whether in a small window or large window, we want to find the best fit.”
Lane plans to meet with his new team today. He also will sit down with the current Rebels’ coaching staff before making decisions on next season’s assistants.
Lane thanked former Byrnes coaches Bo Corne, Chris Miller and Bentley for setting the winning standard at the school. He added that he intends to keep the tradition going.
“I’m going to continue that path,” Lane said. “That’s my direction I’m going to continue. I plan on keeping the integrity high in our program. I do that with five things that’s going to be the basis of what we do, and that is discipline, effort, commitment, toughness and trust. These five things are going to take us to the next level and continue being what a Byrnes Rebel is all about.”