With over 140 coaching changes that took place this offeseason, it was tough to come up exactly what five changes were considered the top changes this off-season.
After going through the list there were six coaching changes that ended up making the cut with two being tied for the fifth spot. As such, there were many other changes that could have made this list, but did not make the cut. Those will be featured in our other notable coaching changes of the 2016 season in a separate article.
Without further adieu, here is our top five, er., six coaching changes of the 2016 off-season:
1. MIAMI JACKSON
After Miami Jackson head coach Earl Little stepped down after two seasons at the helm, the question was who was going to lead the team going into the 2016 season. The answer was likely closer than what it had originally seemed.
Lakatriona Brunson, who is more familiar to reality television viewers as “Bernice” from truTV’s South Beach Tow, was hired as the new head coach for the Generals. That hire made her the first known female head coach to lead a high school football team among Florida’s nearly 560 11-man football programs.
Joining Brunson on staff will be former Miami Norland defensive coordinator Luther Campbell who will serve as her defensive coordinator. Campbell is better known to people in South Florida as “Uncle Luke” the former leader of the rap group 2 Crew Live.
Brunson, who is a physical education team at Miami Jackson, said in the same report that other women have been contact her and asking if they can coach with her.
In the end though, she is pretty much in control of things like any head coach should be as she sent players through strong conditioning drills and having them run track as part of what she calls building a ‘smash-mouth’ team.
Overall, it will be a fun season to watch to see how Miami Jackson fairs in Brunson first season which includes a big road trip to face Florida’s all-time wins leader in Corky Rogers at Jacksonville Bolles.
With just over 24 hours left to go before fall practices commenced, the biggest surprised of coaching changes took place when it was announced that Chaminade-Madonna head coach Jason Milgrom resigned.
The reasons, according to Milgrom, were that he didn’t like the direction of the way the program was going for his abrupt resignation.
And it appeared the result of his resignation was going to be a total dismantling of the Lions program that was expected to be in the hunt to possibly reach the Class 3A state championship this season.
However, the school moved rather quickly by hiring former Hallandale head coach, Dameon Jones to take over for at least this season. That move has kept the team united and has only resulted in one transfer out of many that had initially planned to transfer out, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
3. OXBRIDGE ACADEMY
A major internal investigation at Oxbridge Academy, that was initiated by founder Bill Koch, led to the dismissal of several people at the top including CEO Bob Parsons, athletic director Craig Sponsky and head coach Doug Socha, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
The dismissal of Socha, however rocked the Florida high school landscape, as the ThunderWolves were just coming off a successful spring season and had won their first district championship in District 3A-7 this past season, which was also the first year that Oxbridge Academy has been eligible for the playoffs in district play.
The report indicated that Socha’s contract as head football coach was not renewed for the upcoming season and in turn the school promoted defensive coordinator Brendan Kent to the position of head coach.
However, the process of change hasn’t been smooth as multiple reports from various media outlets have indicated some of the strongest players for Oxbridge Academy had transferred to other schools in the Palm Beach County area for the upcoming season. The change also canceled a trip to DeMatha Catholic in Maryland for a Week 1 contest, which eventually was filled in with defending Class 8A state champion Flanagan during the summer. The turbulence was all capped off when the school announced it would forfeit all athletic wins from the past two seasons due to impermissible benefits within the school.
It remains to be seen how well Oxbridge will fair during the 2016 season given that prior to Socha’s dismissal that the ThunderWolves were to be a top five team in Class 3A to start the season.
While it swirled around as rumor for much of last season that Devin Bush Sr. was likely going to depart for the college ranks, not much came from it.
It wasn’t until after Flanagan finally laid claim to their first football state championship in Class 8A that the rumors started to increase for Bush to make the jump.
When his son, Devin Bush Jr., signed with Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines, the destination was starting to become much clearer for Bush Sr. for his first college job. The move was made official just over two weeks after National Signing Day, when the Miami Herald reported that Bush Sr. was hired by Harbaugh as a defensive analyst.
However, the successor to Bush Sr. at Flanagan was already in the building.
With just a few weeks before spring football, the school officially announced the promotion of Stanford Samuels Jr., the Falcons’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons, the Miami Herald reported.
Samuels told the Herald that the goal hasn’t changed in winning a state championship, which is something the Falcons will be defending this season and will have a big star in his own son, Stanford Samuels III, to help anchor the defense that became well known to fans the last few seasons.
As such, we don’t expect too much drop for the Falcons with this move.
T5. ST. AUGUSTINE
There will be a change of the guard at St. Augustine for the first time since 1996, as Joey Wiles stepped down to take the assistant athletic director position with Flagler College, a 4-year liberals arts college in the nearby historic downtown district in St. Augustine.
Wiles, who won’t be coaching football at the NCAA Division II program, as no such program exist, he leaves behind a legacy that turned St. Augustine from being nearly everyone’s homecoming to the team that teams in Northeast Florida rather not face when they were loaded.
According to Justin Barney at The Florida Times-Union, Wiles stepped down just two wins shy of 200 career wins at St. Augustine. However, with other stops along the way including Melbourne and Fort Pierce Central, Wiles hung up his high school coaching career with a win total of 242 to only 82 losses.
Wiles most notable achievements included taking the Yellow Jackets to three state championship games of the course of his tenure, winning one in 2005 in Class 3A with a perfect 15-0 record. It also worth noting that the Yellow Jackets haven’t missed the playoffs since 1999, which marked 17 straight years of reaching the postseason as of last season.
But the next person to lead the Yellow Jackets program under the post-Wiles era, would be found not far away.
That would be now-former Mandarin Head Coach Brian Braddock.
Braddock, one of two coaches who eventually became head coaches after spending time under Wiles, was hired to take over for his former mentor and coach in March after spending the past three seasons turning around the program at Mandarin including a 12-1 season this past year that included a trip to the regional finals in Class 8A.
For Braddock who played under Wiles in his three seasons at the helm, told The Florida Times-Union that “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to return home,” considering he had no interest in leaving the job at Mandarin.
Overall, St. Augustine has been left in good hands to continue the success and tradition of what Wiles was able to build through in two decades.
In just five seasons, Andrew Thomas pretty much did it all for Trenton.
Thomas took the Tigers from a team with aspirations of just winning a district championship and making the playoffs to a team that reached the Class 1A state championship three times in those five years, coming away with two championships in the process.
So after Trenton won its second Class 1A state championship in December, after defeating Port St. Joe for the second time in the same season, there was no idea that Thomas was even thinking about leaving the program that put the fourth-smallest county in area on the map.
However, the opportunity to coach a well known program in T.R. Miller in Alabama following behind in the footsteps of one of Alabama’s own legendary coaches in Jamie Riggs was too good to pass up. That opportunity came in late February.
“That is a job and place you can’t ignore. It is a great opportunity,” Thomas told the Gainesville Sun.
Thomas, will leave Trenton with 60-5 overall record in five seasons, having won two Class 1A state championships with the program in 2013 and 2015, while finishing as the Class 1A runner-up to Northview in 2012.
However, a familiar face was not far away that would be tapped to take over the program.
Within just a matter of weeks, Trenton hired Alachua Santa Fe head coach Bill Wiles, who previously coached the Tigers from 1997 until 2001, according a Gainesville Sun, report.
While at Santa Fe, Wiles able to lead a turnaround of the Raiders program that finished the 2015 season with a 9-4 record and a trip to the state semifinals where it fell to Class 4A state runner-up, Jacksonville Raines.
Overall, Trenton should stay the course for what Thomas has left to Wiles for his second stint with the program.