Blackmon leaves Opelika, joins AU

Photo by Robert Noles

Brian Blackmon resigned Feb. 23 as Opelika High Athletics Director and head football coach, to join the Auburn University football staff.
Coach Blackmon spent 22 years at OHS, the last eight as head football coach and athletic director. He finished with  a 69-25 record as head coach. Blackmon guided his teams to eight consecutive winning seasons, seven-straight playoff appearances, three region championships and made history with two trips to the AHSAA 6A championship game. The last three seasons the Dawgs were 34-5 including a 10-0 season in 2015 and a school-record 13 wins in 2016.
Blackmon’s new job is offensive analyst with the Auburn University football team. This is the third time AU has courted Blackmon to join the staff. The first time, 2012, Brian turned down the offer after taking Opelika to the first 6A championship football game in school history. Ironically, Chip Lindsey took the AU job in 2012 and is now the offensive coordinator for the Tigers. Chip Lindsey and Brian Blackmon have a relationship that dates back over 25 years ago. The two were roommates as freshman on the North Alabama football team.
Leaving Opelika was a huge decision and a difficult one for Brian. He and I discussed his situation at length over the last three weeks while he was contemplating his decision.
Opelika is home for Blackmon’s three children. ”Cade and Carlyle started the First grade in the OCS system and are now in the tenth and seventh, DeAndre (junior) attended ACS for a short period but the majority in OCS. I taught and coached at OHS for 22 years. How many more opportunities will I have to coach in college? This is the third time, I prayed for weeks asking God to lead me to make the right decision” Brian Blackmon said.
“I am at peace, my family is behind me and I feel it is time for me to become uncomfortable and chase a dream of becoming a college coach. I am going to miss my job at Opelika!
“I want to thank so many people. Dr Neighbors and Dr Seymore, two wonderful men and bosses, both have integrity and character. The players, people of Opelika, fans, teachers, OCS staff, corporate sponsors,  former players, boosters, the chain crew…Heck, I could keep naming folks and still leave someone out by mistake.  Thank you to all the people that make Opelika special.”
Coach Blackmon made a point to thank the Orthopaedic Clinic-Administrator Terry Rosenthal, John Rich, team doctors Jim Whatley, Trent Wilson and former administrator Marion Fuller for helping keep Opelika’s student/athletes safe by providing team trainers and doctors. “The Orthopaedic Clinic is more than just a medical facility to the Opelika School System,”  Blackmon added. “They are big supporters of Opelika, not just in football but to all of the sports in Opelika and its recreation programs.”
“The Kicker (WKKR 97.7 FM) is the best!, Opelika is blessed to have a radio station that follows football games on the road and at home. Broadcasting to fans all over the world on the internet is a huge asset. I will never forget opening a letter from a former OHS student deployed overseas. The young man congratulated me on a win and explained the joy of listening to Opelika football while thousands a mile away, in the real world.”
As of Feb. 24, Opelika High was without a football coach and athletics director. Assistant Athletics Directors, Devin Booth (female sports), and Erik Speakman (male sports) will continue to operate as normal. Opelika High Principal, Dr. Farrell Seymore will assist in any the Athletic Department decisions before a new coach and athletic director is hired.
Brian Blackmon is a class act. He represented Opelika well both on and off the field. His record is not the only shining spot, his accomplishments off the field are just as daunting. Brian, you will be missed at Opelika. I hope the next chapter in your life is as successful as the previous ones. Go Dawgs!
The Opelika head coaching position was posted last Friday morning on the “Teach in Alabama” website.
The posting reads:
“Nine-month Teacher and Head Football Coach”.
The contract is for 187 days during the year and a head coaching supplement based on experience. The mailed resume should include three letters of reference.
Opelika City School Superintendent, Dr. Mark Neighbors, and Opelika High Principal, Dr. Farrell Seymore,  are leading  the search for the new coach. Neighbors has made it clear that this position is coach-only. The athletic director post will be separate and advertised at a later date.
According to Dr. Mark Neighbors, the two will gather input from some in the community. No names were mentioned. The job will remain posted until the position is filled. Normally schools leave the application process open for two weeks.
In 2008, after Spence McCracken retired, Dr. Neighbors named three or four community members to serve on a committee and listen to each interview.  It would not surprise me if this search is conducted in the same manner.
I believe we will have a large number of resumes. AHSAA Executive Director, Steve Savarese said,“Opelika is one of the top five jobs in the state of Alabama. The way the city of Opelika supports the schools: the mayor works hand in hand with the superintendent, the Booster Club is strong, facilities are second to none, the administration and many other positives.
I urge each Opelika Bulldog supporter to have patience and pray for our school administration during the search for the next Opelika football coach.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the  A-O Sports Council.


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