E.A. Sports Today

Tucker leaving Cubs

UPDATED with comments from Anniston coach Eddie Bullock

Alexandria coach Frank Tucker tells his team he won’t be coaching next season, becomes second county coach with status change in 24 hours, third in a week

Anniston coach Eddie Bullock (L) was relieved of his football coaching and athletics director duties by the city school board Thursday night. On the cover, Alexandria coach Frank Tucker told his team Friday he was stepping aside. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Life as a high school head football coach carries a pretty hectic pace. After a while there comes a time one just needs to slow down.

That time has come for Alexandria football coach Frank Tucker. He told his team earlier today he would not be coaching the program going forward as he seeks to slow down the rush in his golden years, East Alabama Sports Today has confirmed.

“I guess it’s just a change of lifestyle,” he said. “It’s a great job. I’ve loved it for 31 years, but I just decided – and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a long time – (I wanted) a slower pace of life.

“You wake up at 6 o’clock on Monday morning thinking about Friday night all the way up to Friday night and if you win it’s a good Saturday and if you don’t it’s a bad Saturday and then it starts all over again.”

Tucker is the second Calhoun County football coach to have his status change over the last 24 hours and third in the last week. Anniston’s Eddie Bullock was relieved of his football coaching and athletics director duties by the city school board Thursday night. Weaver coach Daryl Hamby told East Alabama Sports Today during the Calhoun County Softball Tournament he was making 2018 his final football season.

Tucker said he had been mulling over the decision since Thanksgiving. He said he still wanted to be coaching in some capacity — perhaps as a junior high assistant — but “I just don’t want to be the head man in charge of everything now.” He remains a physical education teacher at the school.

Tucker was just the third head football coach Alexandria has had since 1947. He followed legendary Larry Ginn and led the Valley Cubs to a 77-44 record over 11 seasons. His teams won two region titles and made nine playoff appearances, with a heartbreaking overtime loss to Mortimer Jordan in the Class 5A semifinals at Lou Scales Stadium.

This year’s team went 8-3 and lost at Wenonah in the first round of the playoffs.

He coached two of his sons during his tenure — Luke, who quarterbacked the state semifinal team, and Josh, who graduates this year. Another son, Joe, has two years left to play.

Tucker said he thought “a lot” about staying through the end of Joe’s high school career, but “thought that would be unfair to the team and the coaches if that was the only reason” to stick around.

“I didn’t want to be the guy who stayed around too long,” he said.

The Valley Cubs begin spring practice a week from Monday. Andy Shaw will be the interim head coach.

Bullock, meanwhile, was relieved of his football and athletics director duties at the Anniston school board meeting Thursday night.

It wasn’t immediately known if Bullock, a tenured teacher, will remain as the school’s girls basketball coach.

“That is based upon coach Bullock’s intent,” Anniston schools superintendent Darren Douthit said. “We wish coach luck as he moves forward if he’s purusing something else. I think that’s what I heard, he’s interested in something else.”

Bullock said Saturday he was “weighing my options,” but had no immediate plans. He said Saturday he “probably” would remain with the girls basketball team for the foreseeable future “because I don’t want to see them suffer.”

The dismissal genuinely caught Bullock by surprise and was he informed of it in a phone call from Anniston principal Charles Gregory later in the evening. Neither Douthit nor Gregory would offer any specific circumstance that might have led to the change.

“I didn’t realize that many people were offended by me coaching football,” Bullock said. “If I did something indirectly or directly that offended anybody during my coaching tenure I want to public aoologize and if I see them face to face I’ll apologize to them to their face.

“I came to the high school in 2000 and my intent was to come in and help kids like people helped me, people who helped me out coming up through the ranks. I just wanted to help people the same way.”

Bullock was 40-47 in eight seasons as the Bulldogs’ football coach. His teams made the playoffs four times with limited resources, but only once (2015) in the last five seasons. It reached the state semifinals in 2011, losing 21-14 to Oneonta.

“I did the best that I could with what I had,” he said.

“Coach Bullock deserves a thank you for his years of service to the football team, Outhit said. “He is probably among football coaches a nurturer. I appreciated the way he took care of our young people and I thank him for all he’s done for the football team.”

Moving forward, Douthit said he would support Gregory’s handling of the search for a successor in the dual role as football coach and athletics director.

“I will give him everything I have in terms of support and advice and details as he moves forward with the future of the football team,” he said.

No interim coach has been appointed and Gregory said there is no timetable on naming a successor. He believes personnel already within the school system can help the team get through spring practice.

“Our main goal and objective is to get the right person who is going to lead the athletic program and football team,” Gregory said. “We will go through the process, but we’ll mindful of time. We feel like like we have a wonderful opportunity available here and are sure there will be plenty of candidates.”

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