For Joey McQueen, the position of wide receivers coach was a good one at Hardin-Simmons University, but there was always one thing he missed — coaching under those Friday night lights.
After a two-season stint coaching collegiately, McQueen will return to the high school level after being named the new head football coach and athletic director at Florence on Monday.
“I just think it’s a place that can be turned around,” McQueen said. “With the coaching staff that I have, it might take a year, but we eventually get the culture changed and get a winning program.”
The Florence Independent School District’s board approved the hiring by a unanimous 7-0 vote. His first day on the job will be Jan. 6.
Florence Superintendent Sam Atwood and a selection committee recommended McQueen to the board.
“We have all the confidence in the world in coach McQueen,” Atwood said. “He’s a great person, a great motivator, he does a great job in the role of athletic director in building all of the programs, not just the football program.”
McQueen, 55, leaves HSU after two seasons as wide receivers coach. His most recent stint as a head coach was at Lampasas for three seasons.
McQueen comes to Florence with a reputation for turning around struggling programs.
In McQueen’s three years as the head coach at Lampasas, the Badgers went 19-14 and made two playoff appearances.
McQueen won his first game as Badger head coach in 2009 and helped the program rebound from an 0-20 run the previous two seasons.
McQueen went 10-2 and helped Lampasas win its first district championship in 25 years during his final season at Lampasas in 2011.
During his career as head coach, McQueen has also guided Class 3A Smithville to its first win in two years and led San Angelo Lake View to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years in 2003. Lake View won a district title a year later.
McQueen comes to a Florence football team that has struggled. The Buffaloes last made the playoffs in 2001 when they went 7-4. Florence has made only two playoff appearances in 55 years.
“I had an opportunity to come back to high school football,” McQueen said. “Some would say ‘Why Florence?’ Well, why not?”
McQueen takes over for Paul Smith, who resigned as head coach and athletic director on Nov. 11 after the team finished 1-9, including a 0-7 record in District 13-2A, Div. I.
Smith, 51, was head coach at Florence for five years, where he went 13-37. His overall record as a head coach is 67-54-1, and Smith will finish out the academic season at Florence.
Smith’s most successful season at Florence was 2012, when the Buffaloes finished 4-6, including a 2-5 district mark.