David Cobb remembers the first time he met Buddy McBryde.
Just a ball boy when his older brothers Ceasar and Daniel played for the Ellison then-defensive coordinator in 2006, Cobb has fond memories of his former head coach.
“We had a really good relationship; we could laugh on or off the field, I could talk to him about anything,” said Cobb, now a sophomore tailback at the University of Minnesota. “If I saw something in the defense, he was open to listening.
“But from my experiences with him, what I most remember was he was about learning how to get over adversity. He always talked about facing it during a game. After you made a bad play, bounce back.”
Now the Eagles football program seeks to bounce back from a bit of adversity following the resignation of McBryde on Friday. The embattled athletic coordinator and head football coach leaves Ellison in the midst of a 20-game losing streak.
McBryde, 51, formally announced his resignation during his football athletic period Friday morning, first breaking the news to his coaches and players before Killeen ISD released an official statement. McBryde is expected to serve out the end of his current contract.
“Your reaction is always one of disappointment, because he was one of your guys,” said KISD Executive Director of Athletics Tom Rogers. “In this
profession, coaches put more pressure on themselves than anybody else. If you don’t believe that, you’ve never been a coach.”
McBryde served three years as defensive coordinator under former coach Bret Boyd before being promoted to the head coaching job in 2008. From there, he compiled a 13-37 record in five years as head coach, including losing every game the final two seasons.
KISD is expected to begin the search for a new campus athletic coordinator and football coach immediately, with a job posting already up on the KISD website and an application deadline of Dec. 4.
“It is unfortunate it came down to this,” said Chris Winbush, an Ellison alum and KNCT sideline reporter. “(McBryde) is an Ellison Eagle. But it is sad to see the state of the program. We definitely needed to see some change for next season and try to get the tradition to what it was back in the day.”
McBryde has borne the brunt of massive criticism since taking over the program, mostly from stalwart fans and alumni who weren’t happy with the wing-T offense he installed.
“It was rough, though, seeing coaches that do not make adjustments as the season goes on or at halftime (of a game) — I don’t know if that is coming from McBryde or from his assistants,” Winbush said. “But, just being in the wing-T put them behind the bow. You have got to have some bigger linemen to be able to do that at the 5A level, whether it is like Euless Trinity or Odessa Permian.”
But the critics weren’t just relegated amongst the older alumni.
“The system didn’t fit what we had. We were probably faster than other teams, but we weren’t big enough to line up and shove it down your throat,” said former Ellison safety/third baseman Greg Greene, now a redshirt freshman at Eastfield College in Dallas.
“He’s a good coach, just not for the kids around here.”
Greene was part of the 2010-11 senior class that finished 4-6 during the 2010 season and included Cobb and about seven other college-bound athletes. It was also the last team to win a game at Ellison. That class included linebackers Lynn Grady (Abilene Christian), Devon Hocutt (who was originally committed to Texas Tech before running into injury trouble), Jordan Holloway, and receiver Devante Cloud, the last three who went to Cisco Junior College. Also part of that team was then-junior safety Sean McBryde, the middle of McBryde’s three sons who will be a freshman next season on the Army football team after sitting out his prerequisite redshirt season at West Point.
Hocutt took to Twitter to voice his reaction to news of McBryde’s resignation.
“Three years too late but I’m glad, kids can start winning again!!” he tweeted.
After struggling through a playoff drought his first three seasons as head coach, following a three-year postseason run the last few seasons under Boyd, McBryde finally diverged from his wing-T offense in the 2011 season, eventually switching among the Air Raid and Wildcat offense before returning to a more run-based spread in 2012.
“He had too much (pride), like he didn’t want to change,” Greene said. “I heard he changed it up a little bit last year because of his record and the situation, but it should have been changed a long time ago, and you just can’t throw it in the middle of a season.”
Despite scheme issues and dwindling participation, his fellow KISD coaches always appreciated how tough the Ellison teams played under him.
“We knew they would get us ready for the physical part of our district when we were in 4A,” Killeen coach Sam Jones said. “It’s always good to play somebody that was that physical. And, it was always a good game.”