When Gatesville athletic director/head football coach Kyle Cooper announced he was leaving the school to become an assistant coach at Mount Vernon on Monday afternoon, it started the clock ticking for the Hornets to find his replacement.
Gatesville ISD began the process of filling the position on Tuesday with just 42 days remaining until the start of summer practice on August 5.
“We were surprised and sad to see (Cooper) go, but we wish him the best of luck,” Gatesville superintendent Dr. Barrett Pollard said.
On Tuesday, Pollard said the district was still coming up with a plan, considering whether to hire from within the program or bring in a new coach.
But it didn’t take long for interest in the job to develop.
“News traveled fast and we even had some emails (Monday) night inquiring about the position,” Pollard said. “We’ll post it and see what sort of candidates we get.”
Pollard added that the school communicated to the football players and their parents on Tuesday that filling the AD/head football coach post is now the top priority of the summer.
Cooper was the Hornets’ head football coach for the past 12 seasons, compiling a 63-66 record in that time. He led Gatesville to six playoff appearances. The Hornets reached the high point of Cooper’s tenure when they won their first 13 games and advanced to the Class 3A Division II Region I final in 2012 before falling to Graham.
Gatesville went 3-7, 1-3 in District 5-4A Division I last season, following a 7-4 campaign and a playoff berth in 2017.
Cooper said he was looking to step away from the athletic director role, prompting him to reach out to new Mount Vernon coach Art Briles.
Mount Vernon, which plays football in District 7-3A Division I, made news in May by hiring Briles, who is currently finishing the season as the head coach of Firenze Guelfi of the Italian Federation of American Football. The Guelfi defeated the Bolzano Giants, 42-39, on Sunday to reach their first Italian Bowl, the championship game of Italy’s top division.
By taking over at Mount Vernon, Briles will return to coach in the United States for the first time since he was fired by Baylor in 2016 during the school’s Title IX scandal.