By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
A list of candidates for Muskogee High’s next head football coach has been reduced from the list of applicants received.
Wendy Burton, Muskogee Public Schools spokesperson, said superintendent Mike Garde has “whittled the applicants to 10 right now, according to specific protocols.” Those protocols, according to Burton, would include 5A and 6A head coaching experience and/or a high level of success at a program.
Interviews begin Monday.
One candidate has confirmed he will interview for the position — former Tulsa Washington coach Antwain Jimmerson.
Reached by phone, Jimmerson, in his fourth year as an assistant football coach and head track coach at Irving (Texas) High, said he was wanting to get back to an area where he was 95-26 with one Class 5A title, three championship game appearances and six district titles. He also served as an assistant at Jenks under Allan Trimble and helped win four state championships in that span.
“It’s a proud high school and proud football community, something I saw in some great games while I was at Booker T and at Jenks,” Jimmerson said. “It’s a great atmosphere to coach in and a place I’d like to be.”
Jimmerson’s career at Washington ended when he resigned in January 2010 after a scandal in the school’s athletic department while he was also was the Hornets’ athletic director. Jimmerson was sanctioned in October 2009 and suspended for that season’s final two games after Tulsa Public Schools officials determined that more than 40 Washington athletes in four sports participated in competition while they were ineligible because of recruiting, residency and academic violations that included failing to conduct eligibility grade checks — a violation of Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association rules. That discovery forced the school to forfeit three football wins and cost it a playoff berth.
He said he has learned from that episode.
“When I was AD, you’ve got to be responsible,” Jimmerson said. “I never fingered anyone in the process. I understand I’m the one in charge and the fault starts with me. I should have taken care of what I allowed others to do, but I never blamed anyone else. I was the leader of the program so it was my job to oversee that.”
Jimmerson also said he has the recommendation of Tulsa superintendent Keith Ballard.
“I want to get back to my coaching roots,” the Texas native said. “I’m better for what I’ve been through.”
Muskogee defensive coordinator David Heath will be interviewed. A couple of others who told the Phoenix they would be interviewed asked that there names not be made public at this time.