“Right now, I’m just trying to learn their names. I think I got about 8 to 10 names down pretty solid,” McCorkle said. “I’ve never taken one over this late.”
With the high school football season less than four weeks away and the first day of practice just three days away, the school posted the football job as an emergency hire following the departure of former coach Jarrod Wooten, who stepped down from his post last week to take over at his alma mater Beulah High School.
Parrish put together a five-person search committee to find the next coach. The committee made its choice Thursday night.
“We had to work pretty fast,” new Parrish Principal Jody Claborn said of getting a head football coach. “We were fortunate that we had several great candidates who applied. Coach McCorkle really stood out. It was a unanimous decision by the committee. He has an impressive resume. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him. We have high hopes for what he will do with the football team.”
McCorkle, 63, who got his first head coaching job at Cordova High School in 1979, has made numerous stops at the collegiate level. He’s been an assistant coach at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky and served as the head coach at Livingston, Tennessee-Martin and West Alabama. He was the head coach at Class 5A Etowah High School the last four years. During his time at Livingston, which is McCorkle’s alma mater, he coached a pair of area coaches: Curry head football coach Shay Oliver and Dora head basketball coach Michael Bridges.
At Etowah, McCorkle guided the Blue Devils to the playoffs each of the last three seasons. He inherited a team that went 3-7 in 2008. Etowah went 4-6 in McCorkle’s first year, but followed with records of 6-5, 10-2 and 7-4.
He resigned from his post in January, but he wasn’t done with coaching.
McCorkle said he was drawn to the Parrish job.
“I remember my experience in Walker County when I was at Cordova and how important football is to the people in the county. When I was at Cordova, we had a tremendous rivalry with Parrish. I’ve been at every level, but two of the most intense games I’ve been involved in were the Cordova-Parrish games,” he said.
Parrish won both games against McCorkle’s Blue Devils, winning 13-10 in 1978 and 6-0 in 1979.
At Parrish, McCorkle takes over a program that hasn’t had any coaching stability. He is the fourth head coach in the last four years. Since advancing to the state semifinals in 2010 under Andy Keith, the team has gone 4-6 and 5-5.
McCorkle has a plan in place.
“I told them there are three things they’ve got to do. First, they’ve got to trust me. I’ve also got to trust them. We’ve got to have trust in each other. Second, we have to be committed to excellence. We have to be the best we can be. Third, we have to care about each other. I told them, as time goes on and I get to know them they will find out that I love my players,” McCorkle said.
“I told them that I expected them to be here. If they aren’t here, they won’t play. They’ve got to buy in and if they do that, we will win.”
Parrish plays American Christian Academy in a home jamboree set for Friday, Aug. 23. The game is a rematch of the 2003 Class 1A state championship game, which Parrish won 20-17. The regular season opens a week later at home against rival Oakman.
“We play in 28 days, three hours and 28 minutes here against Oakman,” McCorkle said on Friday. “They are really good. They’ve got everybody back. To get ready in that quick of a time without a spring practice and without a summer, it’s going to be a challenge.”
He plans on being at Parrish for a while.
“Any job you take, you take that job to do the very best you can. I worked for Steve Sloan at Ole Miss. He told me, ‘Every job you take, you take it like it’s going to be the last job of your life. You work as hard as you can and whatever happens, happens,’” McCorkle said. “When I went to Etowah, I went to build a program. When I went to Cordova, I went to build a program. I loved it at Cordova. I’m anxious to get here. I’m not anxious to move. I’m anxious to see what we can do at Parrish.”