Bryan County Patriot
DURANT – It is an assembly of enough significance to cause a sports observer to notice a disturbance in the force.
And one that is likely unprecedented in small college or large college sports.
With the hiring of Morris Sloan to work on the staff of Ray Richards at Durant High School this fall, it means that five Southeastern head football coaches will be living in the Durant area at the same time.
Surely, physics are being defied here at some level.
Obviously, only one is the current head man for the Southeastern football program. Bo Atterberry (SE head coach 2014-present) said it was an unbelievable deal that it worked out that way, but that he is happy.
“Just to be mentioned with those guys and be around them and see Coach Sloan, now that he’s back and to see him more often is pretty awesome,” Atterberry said.
Atterberry’s immediate predecessor, Ray Richards (2005-2012), was hired in May to be the new head coach of the Durant High School football team.
Richards has been back in town for the last two years, working as an assistant with the Lions’ football program.
Prior to Richards’ tenure was that of Keith Baxter (2001-2004), current athletic director at Southeastern.
Both Richards and Baxter served as coordinators during the stretch in which Morris Sloan (1989-2000) held the head position.
Sloan is the winningest coach is Southeastern history with a 65-53-1 record, and was inducted to the Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
Another SE Hall of Famer, class of 2005, still resides in Durant as well.
Richard “Red” Rutherford (1979-1982) said this kind of gathering is unique and a testament to the community.
“For a small town and really a small university to have that many people that have held that position for how ever long a period of time, I think it says something about Durant and it says something about the university,” Rutherford said. “It’s a pretty neat deal that this community has managed to maintain this type of people in it. It says a great deal for the town.”
And Rutherford also noted things are different now than when he was on the sidelines at Paul Laird Field.
“It’s a totally different game. I’m amused by some of my friends, who occasionally talk to. I played at Southeastern in the 60’s and some of my former teammates come back and say, ‘You know, I think our team could play with these guys today,’ and I just laugh at them because that’s facetious.
“Things have gotten so much faster, so much bigger, so much stronger. They’ve updated the game and everything is better.”
It is unlikely that should Atterberry pull a hamstring during a contest this and have to sit out the remainder of the game that the line of succession would include one of these former head coaches to take his place.
But it is worth noting that kind of Southeastern head coaching experience is close by.