Glisson’s the right fit at Troup
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The timing didn’t seem right.
Following the 2014 season, Lynn Kendall stepped down as Troup High’s head football coach, and the search began for his successor.
One of the men who was high on the search committee’s list was Tanner Glisson, who at the time was the head coach at Manchester.
“I received a couple of phone calls seeing if I was interested in the job,” Glisson said. “At the time, we went 7-4 at Manchester (in 2013), and we started nine freshmen and went 3-7 (in 2014). And the following year, I knew we were going to be really good. So I told them no thanks the first two times.”
The Troup head-coaching job eventually went to Shawn Sutton, who was introduced during a press conference in February of 2015.
Turns out, Sutton’s tenure as Troup’s head coach was over before it even got started.
Less than two months after accepting the job, Sutton had a change of heart and quit, so the coaching search began anew.
Once again, Glisson was contacted to see if he’d be interested in discussing the job, and he began to wonder if perhaps Troup was where he was supposed to be.
“That was about the time that I realized that God had a big hand in it. It was really meant to be,” Glisson said. “They seemed like they were excited to have a coach like coach Sutton, and all of the sudden for whatever reason he’s gone. So then I got the call again, and it was like I better listen. And once I was able to come over and interview and see some things, I fell in love the place.”
Glisson agreed to become the Tigers’ new head coach, and he and his wife Whitney and their three kids made Troup County their new home.
The early days were a challenge for Glisson and the program, with the Tigers struggling to a 1-9 record in 2015.
Troup enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in 2016, though, winning eight games and finishing second in the region.
The Tigers were even better a year ago, going 9-3 while winning a playoff game before falling in the second round.
In year four, everything has come together.
Troup (12-1) beat Cairo 20-17 last week to reach the state semifinals for the second time in school history while setting a program record for wins in a season.
If Troup wins at Blessed Trinity on Friday, it would play for the Class AAAA state championship.
“I would probably be lying if I told you I knew this was going to happen,” Glisson said. “I knew we were going to make major improvements. I knew we could make it better than how we found it. I knew, with the help of some people who had already been here, that we could improve things.”
Glisson added that “it was the perfect storm. The administration really supported us. The players were hungry. They wanted somebody to come in that was going to stick around, and be consistent with what we were selling. So after three years of hard work, here we are.”
Glisson knows what it’s like to be a part of a successful program.
Glisson was a quarterback for the Manchester football team in the 90s, and those were good times for the Blue Devils.
“I was lucky enough to play for a state championship, and we played in the semifinals in the (Georgia Dome) two other times,” Glisson said. “The year after I graduated, they won a state championship (in 1997).”
For Glisson, the realization that he wanted to become a coach came early in life.
“I always wanted to be a football coach,” Glisson said. “I played at Manchester, and had really great mentors. And I played during the heyday over there when you had a good football team in a small town. You grew up, and that’s what you did.”
During his playing days, Glisson was able to learn from some coaches who had a profound impact on his life.
“The guys who were there, Greg Oglesby, and Zeke Geer, and Chip Medders, and Jeremy Williams and Tommy Parks, I think those guys had a big influence on me, and really encouraged me to take up coaching,” Glisson said.
Glisson was also a baseball standout at Manchester, and he played that sport for two years at Gordon Junior College before transferring to Columbus State.
After college, Glisson returned to his hometown to begin his coaching career, and he was able to work alongside Greg Oglesby, who was his head coach a few years earlier.
Glisson later became an assistant coach at Greenville when Jeremy Williams became the head coach there, and he was also on the staff at Shaw when that program was thriving.
Glisson returned to Manchester in 2005 as an assistant coach, and he took over as head coach in 2013 when Oglesby stepped aside.
Whether he’s been at Manchester, Shaw, or Troup, Glisson has strived to be a positive influence on the men he has led.
For Glisson, that means coaching the players hard, but also making sure they understand he cares about them and wants them to be the best they can be.
“I can remember being a player, and I’m sure it wasn’t done intentionally, but nobody wants to be embarrassed,” Glisson said. “You want to teach kids life lessons and things, but you don’t want to berate them and really embarrass them. I wouldn’t do that to my kids. So hopefully we teach lessons, we’re firm when we need to be firm, we’re uplifting when we need to be uplifting, but it’s just a pleasure being around kids and trying to help make those kids good adults.”
Among the many coaches who has influenced Glisson is Jeremy Williams, who has been an inspiration to so many over the years.
Williams was diagnosed with ALS in 2007, and he remained as the head coach at Greenville through the 2010 season, even as his physical situation deteriorated.
“I think it was one of those things where Jeremy was a role model for a lot of people,” Glisson said. “I’m reminded by the saying, preach the gospel always, and when necessary use words. Jeremy was that guy who just lived it out.”
Glisson added that “there were so many of us, including myself, that just watched what Jeremy did, and how he went about his life, and he has touched so many people. Even before he had ALS. Jeremy’s just a great one, and his whole family are great people.”
Williams was able to attend one of Troup’s games this season, and Glisson was grateful to be able to see his good friend.
“He watched us play Harris County this year, so I was able to spend some time with him in the end zone,” Glisson said. “Every time I got to see him, I think I’m going to be a blessing, and I get there and it’s a blessing to be around Jeremy.”
Glisson is hopeful Williams, and all of those who have helped him over the years, will be able to watch his Tigers play for a state championship.
For that to become a reality, Troup will have to beat a Blessed Trinity team that won the Class AAAA state title a year ago.
Whatever happens this week, it has been a phenomenal season, and Glisson is grateful he’s been able to take this journey alongside people who mean so much to him.
“These guys are family to us. But that’s why you do what you do,” Glisson said. “You want to work your job to the highest level possible. So we’ve done a really good job with it, and I’m blessed to have 12 assistant coaches that are really, really good. And on top of being good coaches, and professionals, they’re good role models.”
Glisson added that “the hours that everyone puts in are just unbelievable. And it’s the way we have been allowed to push these kids, from watching film, to reporting at 7:30, to the weight room, to everything. I’m really, really glad and appreciative of our administration, the teachers, the community. And it’s the parents getting kids here at 6:30 in the morning. It’s very appreciated by our staff.”