Randolph-Clay head boys basketball coach Oglesby Jackson is stepping down to become the school's assistant principal.
CUTHBERT — All it took was a single heartfelt comment by the daughter of Randolph-Clay boys basketball coach Oglesby Jackson to help him make one of the hardest decisions of his life.
“We were driving back from our (state playoff loss) against Taylor County and she was on the bus with me and the players,” Jackson said. “And she told the guys, ‘Hey ... I’m really sorry that you guys lost — but at least I got my daddy back now.’
“That’s what sealed it for me.”
The next day, Jackson — who had been pondering an offer to become the school’s assistant principal and walk away from the coaching position he once called a “dream job” — knew what he had to do.
And Tuesday, he did it.
Jackson, who has been the coach of the Red Devils for the past 2 1/2 seasons, resigned and will now take on the administrative position at the school with the hopes of one day becoming a principal.
“It was my choice. I’ve been talking with the superintendent, my wife and family about it, and I’ve been wanting to go in to administration for a while,” Jackson said. “This was my opportunity.”
Jackson went 38-31 in 2 1/2 seasons in Cuthbert — and, no, that unusual timeline is not a misprint.
Jackson took over the one-time powerhouse program in turmoil during the middle of the 2009-10 season after the Red Devils — winners of four state titles in the last 20 years — fired then-head coach Tyrone Kellog, who had the team off to very un-Randolph-Clay-like 5-5 start. Kellog was named head coach after legendary Randolph-Clay coach Joe Williams, one of the winningest coaches if Georgia prep basketball history with 1,105 and six state titles, resigned. Jackson wanted the job when it came open in 2009 — after all, he was an assistant under Williams for two years before Williams called it a career — but instead was passed over for Kellog. But when the program got off to a shaky start, the administration made a change and brought back Jackson, who won his first game as interim head coach before finishing the season 3-10. Then next season, Jackson got the Red Devils back on track, going 18-9 and finishing runner-up for the Region 1-A title behind Terrell County. They reached the Sweet 16 that season and did so again this year before losing to Taylor County, 81-60, last Tuesday to finish 17-12 overall and third place in the region.
“We’ve had two successful seasons, and I’m proud (of the strides) we made,” Jackson said. “We made the Sweet 16 two years in a row, and before that, Randolph-Clay basketball was down. In (2010-11), we took a group of seniors who had never been to the playoffs to the Sweet 16, and this year we took a group with just one senior and a bunch of 9th and 10th graders to the Sweet 16 again. So I feel good about that.
“It was sad telling the players, but I have no regrets.”
Williams died late last year, and now one of his last remaining disciples is turning the program over to someone else.
“I’m not sure who they’ll hire,” Jackson said, adding he will likely stay out of the hiring process and not make a recommendation. “They’ll put together a committee to do a search and come up with the best candidate.”