published Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Ralph Potter coming back to McCallie as Blue Tornado coach

  • photo
    Brentwood Academy head football coach Ralph Potter stands on the field during an August 2011 game in Brentwood, Tenn.
    Photo by The Tennessean /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Ralph Potter is coming home.

After five years as head football coach and athletic director at Brentwood Academy, Potter has agreed to return to his alma mater and coach McCallie's football program.

"I just really believe McCallie is a better fit for me and the time is right for me to go back home," said Potter, who played quarterback for his father, the late Pete Potter, who coached the Blue Tornado for 21 years. "My five years at BA have given me some clarity about who I am and what my goals and purpose are in coaching.

"After every football season you go through a process to decide if you're going to stay where you are. I've done that every year of my career. When this opportunity presented itself, I thought about what motivates me as a coach and the environment in which I want to work.

"I want to thank the administration at BA because my time there was a beneficial experience for me. I learned a lot. But the environment at BA is much different than at McCallie, and one of the things that stuck out is McCallie's unique approach to developing young men as leaders. It's right there in the mission -- 'honor, truty, duty' -- and working with those type kids appeals to me."

Potter began his head coaching career at Baylor, taking that program to the playoffs all three years, including the quarterfinals the last year, and then spent 10 years as McCallie's coach. His 2001 team finished undefeated and claimed the program's only state championship, and the Blue Tornado were state runners-up in 2006.

It took Potter two weeks to make the decision to accept BA's offer in January 2007, but it was just a matter of ironing out the details over the weekend as he jumped at the chance to return to McCallie.

In his five years at BA, Potter guided the Eagles to a 46-17 record and two Division II-AA state-runner-up finishes. During the same time, McCallie went 24-30, never winning more than six games in a single season, and had two head coaches.

Athletic director Bubba Simmons coached the Blue Tornado in 2010. He will continue as AD and could remain on the football staff as an assistant.

"I feel the football program is moving in the right direction, and I enjoyed the opportunity to lead it," Simmons said. "However, in my position as athletic director, I wouldn't be serving this school if I ignored the opportunity that hiring Ralph Potter offers us. He's a great football mind who has already once led this team to the top, and we believe he can do it again."

Potter, whose overall record is 143-69, had beaten rival Baylor nine consecutive seasons when he left. The Blue Tornado extended that streak two more years after his departure, but Baylor since has won four straight meetings, including once in the regular season and once in the playoffs in 2010.

The Red Raiders have played in the Division II-AA title game each of the last two seasons.

The 48-year old Potter's contract with BA runs through March 30, and he said he will assist in its coaching search if asked.

"I've thought about a lot of things that changed since I left five years ago and what will be different," Potter said. "Maybe the difference isn't any external changes McCallie made. Maybe the change is in me.

"It was such an unknown when I went to BA. From a professional standpoint this is a much more comfortable decision."

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293.

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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ldurham said...

Let the recruiting wars begin! (Oh I forgot. McCallie and Baylor don't recruit. Of course not. Who would think such a thing? Sorry)

December 6, 2011 at 8:09 a.m.
mafitts said...

As a parent of a BA football player I can say that we will truly miss the Potter family. On another note, I wish that Mr. Potter and Mr. Hargis could have delayed the online release of this story untill last night's Fall sports banquet had completed. Rather than an evening of celebrating a season with some great accomplishments, the buzz was circulating surrounding this article. At the end of the banquet, right after presenting the final award, Ralph announced the change. It is very sad that in addition to stinging memories regarding the end of their football carears, the 19 senior BOYS who gave blood, bones and ligaments for this program had their night of recognition overshadowed by this poor timing. I guess DUTY prevails over SPIRIT.

December 6, 2011 at 8:54 a.m.
reallytruly said...

Some things just feel right. Like a Potter at McCallie. Glad to have them home!

December 6, 2011 at 11:24 a.m.
chattacane said...

Unless McCallie opens it wallet, and starts getting more kids into McCallie, don’t care if you hire lying Lou Holtz, it will not help. Had a great coach before Bubba, he was well respected. McCallie has great athletes, just not enough of them to be an upper level team in a very tough division when you go over to Nashville.

The financial picture is tough in this area; folks don’t have the 20k a year to go to McCallie. Well how did Baylor do it? Go to a public school 8th grade football game and count the Baylor “red” shirts in the crowd, near the bench listen to the conversation, they attack the middle school programs, and yes help with folks to get in touch with financial aid, not saying they scholarship any one, but kids talk, they are getting the kids in there, some I know could not even afford to pay the fee for football in middle school. Ask the high school coaches how much time they spend talking kids and parents down after the big private school pitch “well get you in”.

Hang on 8th graders if McCallie wants to return to football greatness, there will be McCallie “blue” shirts at your games next year that is if they give Ralph some dollars, maybe he can borrow some from the lacrosse team.

December 6, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
rosebud said...

What's that son, you don't have the money to attend (fill in the blank here)? Well, I just happen to have a "scholarship" here in my back pocket.

December 6, 2011 at 2:55 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

The football coaches need to get in on that basketball pipeline from Atlanta.

December 6, 2011 at 3:52 p.m.
Oz said...

$2,000 a year after academic assistance to play for a private school. It's not a bad deal.

December 7, 2011 at 12:04 a.m.
BillVol said...

'honor, truty, duty'


December 17, 2011 at 12:54 a.m.
jj64 said...

Couldn't win the big one at BA after 5 years.... there is no doubt that McCallie is a better fit. He likes their approach to developing leaders.... News flash: "leaders win". This guy jumped in "the deep end" and it has taken 5 years for him to make it to shore. Read his comments, this is grown man making "below the belt" comments towards BA kids, a little insight to his character. He couldn't carry Carlton Flatt's whistle!!! Go back to McCallie, where where you can feel like your doing something by beating Baylor!!!

February 10, 2012 at 9:46 p.m.
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