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Murphy steps down as coach at Hinds

[3/6/03]After 16 years, six state championships and more than three dozen players chosen in the NFL draft, Hinds Community College football coach Gene Murphy said it was time to move on.

The veteran coach of the Eagles told his players Wednesday afternoon that he would hand the coaching reins over to longtime assistant Mike Smith, while he acted solely as athletic director.

“He has made a great contribution to the football program at Hinds as both an assistant and a head coach,” HCC president Dr. Clyde Muse said. “We hate to lose him as our coach.”

Murphy had hinted to assistant coaches during this, his second straight losing season, that he was considering leaving the sidelines. He said, though, that the past two seasons had little to do with his decision.

“I just looked at the number of years and felt it was time for a change,” Murphy said. “We had a great run.”

Smith, 49, has been an assistant at Hinds for the past 16 years under Murphy. He most recently coached the offensive line.

“There are a lot of emotions around here,” Smith said. “I feel like God has some purpose for me and I look at that as now. It has taken me a long time to get ready.”

Murphy played football at East Mississippi Community College and earned all-state and all-star honors as a linebacker. He graduated from Mississippi State and came to Hinds in 1983.

In 1987, Murphy was hired to lead the Eagles football team and immediately made his mark.

Over his 16 years, the Eagles have played in eight Region 23 championship games and won six, four coming in an amazing run from 1994-1997.

“We as coaches after the 1997 season and again after the 1999-2000 year, said what a fantastic run we had,” Murphy said. “We played in six state championships in seven years.”

Murphy said having the opportunity to coach and teach his players life skills and responsibility is more important to him than the wins.

“The championships were the icing on the cake,” Murphy said.

Despite the last two losing seasons, Murphy had 32 players that starred for him drafted in the NFL and several college seniors this season may be headed that way.

Associated Press Player of the Year Brad Banks, as well as Miami defensive linemen Andrew Williams and Jerome McDougle, were three of the biggest stars on the Eagles’ last state title team in 2000.

Murphy finishes his career with a gaudy 119-39-5 record.

“One of the things about Gene I’ve noticed over the last 16 years is that I’ve never seen him act like a man who lost control,” Smith said. “That’s a great testimony to him. I hope I can emulate that Christian influence and try to keep it in place.

“I have some big shoes to fill, but I feel like I am ready.”