“I think Tupelo’s making a mistake, but I guess that’s part of it,” Garrett, a three-year starter under Collins (2006-08), said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “He’s a good coach and he really cares about his players.”
Collins stepped down as coach and assistant athletics director three hours before the Golden Wave’s 6 p.m. kickoff on the road against Division 1-6A opponent Horn Lake.
He was suspended by the Tupelo Public School District Oct. 22 for an unspecified violation of district policy.
“I felt like it was time for me to go,” Collins told the Journal less than an hour after his resignation. “It was best for the Tupelo football program and me.
“I enjoyed my time at Tupelo. I wished we could have done better this year.”
A lot of Tupelo’s players hadn’t heard about Collins’ resignation, even after the team’s 40-13 victory on Monday night against Horn Lake.
Senior running back McKenzie Tyler, who rushed for 106 yards and returned a kickoff 82 yards for a score, said someone told him about Collins’ situation prior to the game.
“I hated to see that happened to Coach Collins,” he said. “Coach and I were really close.”
Collins’ team had a 1-6 record when he was suspended. During his six-year tenure with the program, he produced a 36-30 record and his teams qualified for the postseason four times.
A statement released by the Tupelo Public School District said assistant superintendent Fred Hill, THS principal Mac Curlee and THS athletics director Danny Porter would design a search process to find a new coach.
Lamar Aldridge, the team’s defensive coordinator, will remain as interim head coach through the remainder of the season.
Collins will remain as a teacher through the end of the school year.
“It’s a very, very sad day,” said David Garrett, Chris Garrett’s father, who served as THS Football Booster Club president in 2007 and ’08. “We’re losing a great person who cares a lot about the kids.”