Originally created 02/11/06

Pippin hired by North Augusta

Dan Pippin considers himself to be a "Bob Vila-type" when it comes to home improvement.

"I'd like to have that dream house everyone talks about," he said. "Doesn't everybody?"

His latest career move will give him that chance. Pippin will be house-hunting in North Augusta in the near future.

Pippin confirmed early Friday afternoon he would be named the next head football coach at North Augusta. A 5 p.m. news conference was held at the school to introduce him.

"It is the best opportunity for me and my family," Pippin said. "I can't think about moving on without giving credit to all the people at South Aiken who have given our team nothing but the best support. That's Area Superintendent David Caver. That's Bill Gassman, my first principal at South Aiken. That's my players and the students. I owe a ton to all of them."

Pippin had led South Aiken to victories against Region 4-AAAA rival North Augusta each of the past two seasons. The Thoroughbreds also advanced to the South Carolina High School League Class AAAA playoffs in each of those years.

"It's going to be hard talking to my kids about this," Pippin said. "They've put in the work and bought into our program. They've turned South Aiken from a laughingstock in South Carolina to where it's hard to find teams to get games to fill out our schedule."

North Augusta has not made the playoffs since 2003. The Yellow Jackets went 7-15 over the past two seasons.

"But I just don't think that they are very far away from being a really great football program," Pippin said. "Coach Joe Long has done a great job of keeping them competitive no matter what their record has been. I'll change some things but I know the chance to work with (North Augusta principal) Mr. Kyle Smith and coach Long every day would be an ideal situation for any coach."

Long announced at the opener last fall that the 2005 season would be his last as head coach, but that he would remain at the school for the 2006-2007 school year as athletic director.

Pippin's coaching rsum reflects a track record in program improvements. The Thoroughbreds had lost 28 of 29 games before he took over as head coach.

South Aiken went 12-12 during the past two seasons, but they did well against North Augusta rival Strom Thurmond.

The Rebels only lost four times over the past two years. Pippin's teams at South Aiken handed them two of those defeats, including the only blemish on Strom Thurmond's 14-1 Class AAA championship year in 2005.

North Augusta opens next season at Strom Thurmond.

"We're going to have to start working to get ready for Strom Thurmond," Pippin said.

"At least by Presidents Day on Feb. 20. We'll have a new motto at North Augusta. We're going to win every day. Not win every game, but win every day. When we meet with the kids, they'll get a better idea."

Bamberg-Ehrhardt coach Ron Duncan and former Aiken coach Doug Painter also were finalists for the job.

"I applied and pretty much went through the process until the end," Duncan said. "But the best thing I can say now is I am 100 percent committed to Bamberg and I respect the fine people at North Augusta High. They've got a great new coach in Dan Pippin, who I think will do a wonderful job and let's leave it at that."

North Augusta principal Kyle Smith said Jan. 12 that 15 applications were received for the job. The position received significant local interest, with even Silver Bluff coach Al Lown being intrigued by the opening.

"I thought about it," Lown said on Jan. 11. "Who wouldn't think about coaching their alma mater? But at the end I felt Silver Bluff High School was still the best place for me. I withdrew my name from consideration before the application period for the position closed."

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.


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