By Morgan Bryce
A unanimous decision by the Chambers County Board of Education Wednesday cleared the way for Opelika’s Buster Daniel to come home and be the next head football coach at his alma mater, Valley High School.
Daniel, a Valley native and former three-way gridiron star for the Rams in the early 80s, said he is ecstatic about returning home and attempting to revitalize a struggling football program.
“Anytime you get a chance to go back as a coach, and coach at your alma mater, where you played, and where your dad played and where your mom and sister cheered and the whole family went to school, it’s a great opportunity. I’m very excited about it,” Daniel said.
Daniel started his coaching career with OHS in 1995, working with the tight ends in his first season before being transferred to the offensive line, a position he would hold for the next 22 years. He also took over as special teams coordinator in 2003, and added assistant head coaching duties in 2013.
His wealth of coaching experience and area connections were the key factors in his hiring according to Chamber County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge.
“… when I sat down with him a few days ago it really felt like a good fit. I prayed about it and I felt like I got an answer,” Hodge said. “He is a man of character, he has high expectations of his players and coaches, he has a strong work ethic and he has a heart for the program to turn things around.”
Daniel acknowledges that turning around a program that has dealt with eight coaching changes since 2000 and a 33-42 overall record this decade will be a major challenge, but one that he is cut out for.
“They need stability, they need a coach that’s going to be there. I went up and met with them (yesterday) morning, and that’s exactly what I told them, ‘listen I’m not going anywhere,’” Daniel said. “There’s already a staff there, and all the guys are tenured … I know most of them from being from there, and if they want to stay, I’m leaving that up to them. Starting next week, I’ll meet with them individually and give them the opportunity to make their own decision, and we’ll start from there.”
Daniel will coach the spring game today for OHS against region rival Stanhope Elmore, before starting at Valley Monday.
OHS Athletic Director Erik Speakman said principal Farrell Seymore and head football coach Caleb Ross will conduct the search for Daniel’s replacement effective immediately.