Pugh apparently on the move again

George Pugh's love for high school football didn't last long.

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By Adam Bagni

George Pugh's love for high school football didn't last long.

The Montgomery native, who left the college ranks to return to his native state as a high school head coach, stepped down from the job as coach of Paul Bryant High on Wednesday night, just three months after resigning from a similar position at Sidney Lanier High School.

Pugh did not answer phone calls seeking comment but informed Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent Joyce Levey of his decision.

Levey, in turn, released a statement to the Tuscaloosa News that Pugh planned to draft a letter of resignation after efforts to secure a coaching staff for the Stampede had been delayed by school administrators.

"We regret that coach Pugh has chosen not to honor his contract as a teacher and head coach at Paul W. Bryant High School," Levey said. "We wish him well in his endeavors. As for PWBHS, we will seek out a highly qualified teacher and football coach who will be there for our children."

Pugh, a 1972 graduate of Robert E. Lee High and a member of Alabama's 1973 national championship team, has been a successful college assistant coach and high school head coach in his 32-year career, but hasn't found much luck in his native state.

In 1992, he took over a floundering Selma High program and guided the Saints to a 3-7 record, losing a 14-12 decision to G.W. Carver that kept his team out of the playoffs. The next year, the Saints showed improvement on the field but not in their record as a tough schedule that included Tuscaloosa County, Auburn, Carver and Jeff Davis saw them be more competitive but not more productive.

Pugh would have been tenured as a teacher in 1994, but his contract was not renewed amid conflicts with administrators over desires for improvements to the football program. New coach Woodrow Lowe took over the program and showed immediate improvement over the next two years with players Pugh had recruited into the program.

Pugh moved on to Luverne High as the offensive coordinator under Butch Norman in 1994 and helped the Tigers reach the 3A championship game before getting back into the college ranks as an assistant at UAB.

Pugh took a job in 2007 as a wide receivers coach at the University of Houston, but elected to remain with the program when Houston coach Art Briles took the head coaching job at Baylor in November. He was not retained by new Houston coach Kevin Sumlin.

Pugh, who maintains a home in the Birmingham area, expressed an interest in coaching in his native state when he returned to Montgomery in early March to attend the funeral of his father Sherman. Many of Pugh's relatives remain in the Capital City so he was pleased to land the job at Sidney Lanier in late March.

A week later, however, he had not arrived at his new job, upset over the board of education's decision not to renew the contract of principal Lorenza Pharrams, the man who had offered Pugh the position as head coach of the Poets.

While Pugh weighed his options, the coaching position was offered at Bryant High and he accepted on April 8. Meanwhile, Bryant basketball coach Mike Long resigned during the season and baseball coach Derek Irons quit in June to accept a coaching position at Charles Henderson.

Pugh said he conducted spring training in May as the only paid varsity coach on the staff of the Class 6A program. He met with players, boosters and parents on Monday and told them he would resign if the city school system did not address his concerns.

"I have no assistant coaches at this time," he told the News earlier this week.

At least two media outlets have reported that Pugh has been offered an assistant coach's position with former Alabama coach Bill Curry at Georgia State, which debuts its football program in 2010.

Courtesy: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080711/SPORTS03/807110314/1020

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