Blab TV co-hosts Carly Borden and Willie Spears are currently brainstorming ideas for a morning show.
The lure of returning as a football coach near his hometown led Willie Spears to accept a combined role at Vernon High School.
The former Escambia High coach, who was fired in September and has worked since February as co-host on the new morning show, “The Daily Brew” on BlabTV, will become athletic director and football coach at the Class 1A school in Washington County.
Vernon High is about 40 miles north of Panama City. Spears is a 1996 Panama City Rutherford graduate. He went on to play as a receiver at Northwestern Oklahoma State while earning a communications degree, then attained his master’s degree at Troy University.
“It’s going back home for me,” Spears said. “My wife will be able to get a job there. It will be about a 20 minute drive from where we will live in Lynn Haven, so I am very excited about it.
“But coaching is my passion. I really feel I was put on earth to do that. And the TV show was just a natural fit for my personality.”
Spears will continue his role for at least the next couple weeks as co-host with Carly Borden on “The Daily Brew.” The show made its debut in mid-February and airs from 7-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on BlabTV.
“We are not surprised, because we felt like this would happen,” BlabTV owner Quint Studer said. “We felt we were helpful in this transition in providing an opportunity to Willie at BlabTV. We are thrilled for Willie and his family.”
Spears was chosen after a tryout during the talent search for the show. He said he was grateful for the opportunity Studer and his company provided. He said it enabled him to quickly get back to work and if the right job in coaching became available, then he would consider the move as he did with Vernon’s offer.
“We’re gonna miss him but coaching is his passion, and like Quint said, that’s a big part of what the Studers do… is to help people succeed at their passion,” said Randy Hammer, president and CEO of Studer Communications.
Spears will replace Bobby Johns, the former Milton High football coach, who resigned Feb. 19 after two seasons at Vernon. He cited health and family reasons for his decision. Johns guided Vernon to an 11-2 record and advancement into the Region 2-1A championship game where the Yellow Jackets lost to eventual Class 1A state champion Port St. Joe.
Spears was dismissed less than one month into his third season at Escambia High for insubordination on improper recruiting violations. The Escambia County School Board voted 3-2 for dismissal on superintendent Malcolm Thomas’ decision.
Thomas spoke with Washington County school district superintendent Joseph Taylor and endorsed Spears for the new position. Spears said the final approval of his hiring will be April 13 at the next Washington County School Board meeting.
At Vernon, in addition to being the football coach and athletic director, Spears will also coach boys and girls track and field at the school. The athletic director role at Vernon includes grade school and middle school age kids participating in sports.
In two seasons at Escambia, Spears took a struggling program into the post season. This season, Spears was suspended , then fired after the Aug. 30 opener against Vigor (Texas) High, a 35-6 win. That game became a forfeit loss. The Gators won the nine remaining regular season games, before losing to Navarre in the first round of the region playoffs.
Studer said BlabTV will begin searching for a replacement on “The Daily Brew” show.
“We learned through our talent search show that there is lots of talent in this area and look forward to a smooth transition,” Studer said.
Spears said his mother’s recent passing made it more of priority that he look to coach within the Panama City region.
“We wanted to stay close to the area so the grandparents can see their grandkids,” Spears said. “My daughter plays everything (in sports) and they never get to see her play. That was another draw.
“But it was kind of sad (to inform BlabTV employees), but I will be at Blab for the next two weeks and after that, hopefully I can film some segments.”