A first-year Oklahoma high school football coach has made a stunning departure from his new employers, leaving the school in a scramble that eventually resulted in the hiring of a longtime area head coach with no connection or experience with the school.
As reported by Bartlesville Radio and Tulsa NBC affiliate KJRH, Nowata (Okla.) head football coach Jeremy Gray and the school’s football program decided to part ways Tuesday after just two games together at the school. Gray’s brief tenure included losses of 48-13 to Salina (Okla.) and 63-0 to Dewey (Okla.). Both games were played at home for the Ironmen.
While there was no confirmation that struggling results were behind the decision by officials to have Gray depart, the early struggles were clearly ominous for a program that has dealt with constant flux in the coach role across recent years; Gray was the school’s third head coach in as many years, and his replacement will be the fourth.
About that replacement: As first reported by Bartlesville Radio, longtime Oklahoma high school coach Bob Craig will serve as the new Nowata coach despite not being a part of the staff before his new appointment.
“My job at Nowata is to keep the team together, keep the coaches together and to give us the best opportunity to win on Friday night,” Craig said after being named the school’s new coach Tuesday. “I owe that to the seniors, and I owe that to the school of Nowata to give us the best product that I can.”
If that can include multiple wins during the remainder of the season, that would surely be a kind comfort for the Ironmen’s fans. The team has not finished with a losing record since 2011, when the team went a winless 0-10. Given the team’s early struggles, perhaps that was what officials were trying to avoid this year.
Only time will tell if Craig can achieve it in the weeks ahead.