File photo by Rick Nation
Paul Calley, who led the Bryant Hornets football team to the most success in the history of the program, turned in his letter of resignation today to Dr. Tom Kimbrell, Bryant Superintendent, and athletic director Mike Lee.
It’s expected that Calley will be hired as the successor to legendary Jimmy “Red” Parker as head coach at Benton Harmony Grove on Monday night.
Following the 2014 season, Calley was under consideration for the head coach vacancy at North Little Rock but pulled his name from the list of candidates.
“Bryant is a wonderful place and I am blessed to have spent 23 years here with a great community, wonderful teachers, students and players,” Calley said Friday night. “Everyone there is like family to me and always will be.
“Change is difficult and it’s been hard on me, but it is time,” he continued. “The Lord has opened doors for me that I can’t close. There is no underlying story, I left on good terms and I know our administration will choose the right person to lead the Hornet football team to even greater heights.
“Lastly, a huge thank you to my entire staff from seventh grade to the top,” the coach concluded. “They are great coaches and deserve much more credit than me for what we’ve built. It has truly been an unbelievable experience and I look forward to doing it again.”
“It’s a sad day for me personally,” said Lee. “Paul Calley is an icon in Bryant. That’s something he’s earned for 23 years of serving the students at Bryant.
“It’s bittersweet,” he related. “I’m proud for him. He truly feels that the timing of this is something that’s going to be beneficial to him and his family. I’m happy for him that he is able to make this move. But this has been a bad day.”
In 12 years as the Hornets’ head coach, Calley led the Hornets to a record of 103-41-4 including 69-22 in conference games and five conference championships (2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013). The Hornets were 18-4-1 over the last two seasons.
Calley came to Bryant in 1993 as defensive coordinator for Bryant Junior High. He moved to the high school staff to coach the offensive line and linebackers in 1995 under Hornets head coach David Jordan. He became offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 1999 for second-year head coach Daryl Patton. When Patton took the head coaching job at Fayetteville, Calley was elevated to the top job at Bryant.
A 1992 graduate of Henderson State University, Calley was a four-year letterman as a center for the Reddies. His senior season in 1991, he was voted team captain, earned All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference honors and was named NAIA honorable mention All-American.
Calley graduated high school at Gurdon so Harmony Grove would be a return to a familiar level of football.
Lee said the search for a replacement will begin immediately.
“I started today on that,” he said. “We’re going to get a great guy. Bryant High School has so much to offer. The young men that choose to play football at Bryant High School, they deserve a great guy as a replacement and they’ll get that.
“Coach Calley transcended what Coach Patton left and we’re going to find a guy that’s going to transcend what Coach Calley’s left,” Lee stated. “That’s the direction we’re going. That’s what I’m committed to finding.”