Today, some of the country's top coaches are in Biloxi, along with high school coaches, for a decades old clinic here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A tradition that spans over 50 years continues this weekend as football coaches from across the country converge on Biloxi for the Nike Coach of the Year Gulf Clinic. Lindy Callahan, one of the co-founders of the clinic, says, "It's been a great journey and we have enjoyed all those years. We have a great local turnout with all our schools in the area from Hattiesburg around." Callahan helped start the clinic 51 years ago when he was the Head Coach at Gulfport High School, where he won three state titles. Organizers say that coaches are drawn to the event to gain new ideas from some of the country's best coaches. Bud Ratcliff, co-director of the event, says, "This is the opportunity for coaches to learn their craft from the best coaches there possibly are and to come to a great setting here in Biloxi, Mississippi at the Beau."
This may be the 51st year of the clinic, but it's the first year that Nike is a major sponsor and they have brought in some high profile coaches. Ratcliff also says, "Any of those coaches, Larry Fedora, Mark Richt, any of those guys are required by contract to come out and help us at these various clinics, so every year, we get the prime coaches in the country to come and speak at the Nike clinics." Some guest speakers this year include Missouri Head Coach, Gary Pinkle and Georgia Head Coach, Mark Richt. These coaches will bring the insight they’ve gained in the Southeastern Conference to coaches who may be on a smaller stage, but have the same goal: to get an edge on the competition. Leo Jones, co-director, says, "Everybody has a new way and everybody is searching. Football runs in a cycle and consequently, it catches up with it and consequently, it moves on and the progressive coaches are always one cycle ahead and those are the ones successful, especially in high school." The lessons learned from this weekend will translate into action on the football field this fall. The event began today and will run through Friday morning, ending with talks by the S.E.C. head coaches from Missouri and Georgia.