By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Ricky Black remembers the glowing introduction he received before speaking to a Tupelo civic club in 1980, just days after he became Tupelo High School’s new football coach.
“Coach Black comes to us from Kosciusko, where his record was 49 and 6,” the speaker told the audience.
Black chuckles now as he recalls that day. “I heard this one guy say, ‘We’re going to help him even that up,’ ” he said.
That never happened.
Black has won 81 percent of his games (301-69) in 32 seasons coaching under the Friday night lights at Kosciusko, Tupelo and now Jackson Prep.
He won No. 300 two weeks ago when his Patriots defeated Pearl. Only three other Mississippi coaches have won more – Jim Drewry (346), Joe Bradshaw (343) and Bill Hurst (337).
The 63-year-old coach spent 11 seasons in Tupelo, leaving in 1990 to become a member of Jackie Sherrill’s Mississippi State coaching staff for six years.
Black’s Golden Wave teams were 89-31 overall, qualified for the state playoffs seven of those seasons and reached the Class 5A state championship game in 1990, his final year.
His Jackson Prep teams are 162-32 in 16 seasons and have won six state championships.
“It’s hard to believe … 300 games,” Black said last week. “Once you get started, you just keep doing the same things, trying to get better. I’ve had good players and good coaches help me out.”
One of those players was former Golden Wave all-state quarterback Todd Jordan, who also played three seasons for MSU while Black was on the Bulldogs’ staff.
“Everybody on our (Tupelo) team was close-knit … the assistants, the players,” Jordan said. “He was tough, but the players looked up to him and they loved him.”
Bob Monroe, who was an assistant during Black’s entire Tupelo tenure, says his former boss used solid leadership skills to build a strong relationships with his assistants, players, his players’ parents and the community.
“He was a great, great coach,” said Monroe, now an assistant at New Albany. “We had a wonderful staff. We enjoyed coaching and we enjoyed the experience.
“I know I grew as a coach during the time I worked with him as a coach.”
Chris Coleman, the director of athletics and an assistant coach for Corinth, was on Black’s Tupelo staff for six seasons.
“I learned a lot about coaching football from him; he has a super knowledge of the game,” Coleman said. “He shows you how to become a good coach, a good father and a person of character.”
Black has no immediate plans to retire. His wife of 43 years, Linda, ask him two questions before every season: “Are you ready to do this again? Are you ready to do it right?”
His answer continues to be, “Yes!”
Koscuisko 49-6 .891
Tupelo 89-31 .742
Jackson Prep 163-32 .836
Career 301-69 .814