Originally created 02/24/01

Campbell decides to stay on as coach



Lincoln County High School's Larry Campbell, the state's winningest active football coach, has decided to remain as head football coach and athletics director at the school.

The 52-year-old had considered a similar position at Franklin County High School, a Class AAA school in northeast Georgia. But Campbell decided to decline the offer Friday morning.

"It was easy to talk about leaving a place you've been for 31 years," Campbell told The Augusta Chronicle.

"But getting up and doing it was another thing. We were very, very close to going, but my wife hit on some very good points. I don't apologize to anybody for going to look because it is a very attractive part of the state to live in."

Campbell, who has a 337-51-3 record, nine state titles and 24 region championships in 29 seasons at the school, needs 10 victories to break Lincolnton native Dan Pitts' state record of 346 victories.

He said he didn't "want to put the wheel ahead of the horse," but if he did manage to become the state's all-time winningest coach in the coming seasons, he didn't believe it would be fair to the community or his assistant coaches.

"If I had been one of those guys who moves from place to place, it would have been a job worth considering," he said. "My wife seems to think things through better than I do.

"But sometimes in the next two, three or four years and if we have a chance to set the record, that record doesn't belong to Larry Campbell, it belongs to Lincoln County High School, the community and, most importantly, the assistant coaches."

Had Campbell taken the position at Franklin County, he wouldn't have received any kind of pay increase since he officially retired from teaching last year but continued to coach.

As a retired employee, Campbell makes 49 percent of his salary and works 19 hours per week. He was irate that some members of the community thought he would take the position for a bigger salary.

Fans and media had speculated for the last week that Campbell had already taken the position. The Campbells had talked of building a house and put their house up for sale earlier this year. Less than a week later, the house sold, prompting even more speculation.

"It was a situation that snowballed because the very time I went up there and talked (at Franklin County), my house sold," Campbell said. "It went on the Internet that our house had sold and everybody started assuming.

"I wish now I would have never came into this situation. It did more harm than it did good."

Dr. Randall Edmunds, superintendent of Lincoln County schools, was excited Campbell decided to stay in Lincolnton.

"I'm happy that decision has been made," Dr. Edmunds said. "But we realize that someone with his record and stature, people are interested in offering him job opportunities. We're fortunate to have a person of his ability in our school system and we want him to stay. I'm happy with his decision."

Franklin County recently built a new baseball field and plans to undergo major renovations in the rest of its athletic program.

Campbell said that will be a lucrative job for somebody, just not him.

Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or timmorse@augustachronicle.com