Dolphins will have to settle for two D-1 college coaches on same football staff
By Fran Thompson
Gulf Shores Schools Superintendent Matt Akin said GSHS will not be hiring a third star power football coach to join new head coach Mark Hudspeth and new offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield.
It was reported by several online football websites that former West Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina and Troy defensive coordinator Vic Koenning would join his two friends in Gulf Shores.
The expectation is that the quality of the football coaching will be an attraction on par with academic programs such as the school’s Engineering Academy.
Koenning has also been a defensive coordinator at Wyoming, Kansas State, Illinois, and Virginia. He was the head coach at Wyoming, and an interim head coach at Illinois.
WVU will pay Koenning the $591,451 left on his contract over the next two years. So, he was set to join his two friends here because, like them, he loves to coach football.
That still leaves GSHS with two coaches with extensive major college experience. Edenfield was the offensive coordinator at both Troy and South Alabama.
Hudspeth has had immediate and amazing success everywhere he has coached following an outstanding playing career at Delta State, where he was the team’s starting safety as a junior and starting quarterback as a senior.
He coached his alma matter, Winston Academy, a program that had four wins in the previous two seasons, to a 25–1 record and the 1997 Mississippi Private School Association Class A state title.
He worked at Central Arkansas and Nicholls State before helping Delta State win the 2000 Division II championship as the team’s offensive coordinator. Delta State set title-game records in rushing yards (524), total yards (649) and first downs (36) en route to a 63–34 win in the title game.
In 2001, Hudspeth was the offensive coordinator at the Naval Academy. In 2002, he was hired for his first head coaching job at North Alabama and had an incredible run there, going 66-21 in six years. He was the passing game coordinator at Mississippi State for two years before taking over the program at Louisiana–Lafayette.
In his first season in Lafayette, he led a Rajun Cajuns’ team that finished 3–9 the year before to a 9–4 record and its first bowl berth since 1970. He added three more 9–4 seasons and three more bowl games.
Hudspeth’s on field credentials are incredible. He was voted conference coach of the year three times and earned the American Football Coaches Association regional coach of the year honors in 2003, 2005 and 2019, according to a Gulf Shores City Schools press release.
Hudspeth led Austin Peay to a school record 11 wins, a share of the Ohio Valley Conference title and its first-ever postseason appearance in his only season there.
He was in the midst of serving a 20-day suspension when he resigned at Austin Peay. It was reported in the media that he was going to be fired, if he didn’t resign. But Akin said Governors’ athletic director Gerald Harrison gave the coach an outstanding recommendation.
“Coach Harrison explained to me that Coach Hudspeth was not fired at Austin Peay and resigned by choice in order to spend more time with his family. He stated that he would not hesitate to hire him as head football coach at Gulf Shores High School,’’ Akin said.
Akin added that Hudspeth has already making a difference at GSHS.
“Upon arrival, he began immediately working on changing the culture of our football program,’’ he said. “His impact has been very positive and I am excited about the future.’’
The brand new Orange Beach High School debuted as a varsity football program under coach Chase Smith in September. That city’s high and middle schools were created after Gulf Shores split from the Baldwin County School System. Prior to that, O.B. kids went to middle and high school in Gulf Shores.
I do no know if OBHS head coach Chase Smith has an opening or if Koenning would be interested. But it would sure be an asset to have such an outstanding football mind sharing his knowledge with football playing kids somewhere on the Island.