By JASON GORDON
It was good while it lasted.
Hays head football coach and athletic coordinator Blake Feldt accepted the same position at Odessa Permian High School on Thursday.
Ector County ISD athletic director Todd Vesely offered Feldt the job and he jumped at the opportunity to lead the Permian Panthers, who were made famous by H.G. Bissinger’s 1990 book “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream,” which chronicled the Panthers’ 1988 state semifinal season.
Since opening in 1959, Permian has captured six state football championships, 24 district championships and has been voted the national high school champions twice. The school’s last state title came in 1991.
“I was just ecstatic when Coach Vesely offered me the job. I told him I’m ready to go to work,” Feldt said. “I wouldn’t have accepted the job if I didn’t think we couldn’t get Permian back to its rightful place as the king of Texas football. The great thing about the job is they are going to give us everything we need to succeed.”
Feldt will receive a two-year contract at Permian with a salary of $110,399 per year plus a $7,200 car allownce.
At Hays, Feldt had an 18-6 overall record during his two seasons at the school and led the Rebels to consecutive district titles for the first time in history. Still, he only had a one-year contract and was making an annual salary of $90,000. The Rebels made the playoffs in every team sport both years Feldt was at Hays.
“It’s great to have a multi-year contract,” Feldt said. “I’m going to miss the Hays community though. It was honestly the best two years I’ve had in coaching so far because of the kids and parents I’ve dealt with. They are second to none. It breaks my heart I’m leaving after just two years because of the relationships I’ve built.”
Feldt has always had West Texas in his blood.
He played at Midland High and Texas Tech University. Feldt was a graduate assistant at Texas Tech and was a head coach at Breckenridge and Pilot Point high schools. He led Pilot Point to the 2009 Class 2A Division I state title. He also was an assistant coach at Appalachian State University, Southern Methodist University and Midland High.
“It feels like I’m home again,” Feldt said about the job. “This is the district I played my high school football in, and these are the games my dad took me to since before I could walk. It’s such an exciting time for myself, my wife Kathy and our entire family. It’s a dream come true to be the head football coach at Permian – everyone knows the Permian Panthers.”
It will be the third time Feldt has taken over for a coaching legend.
At Pilot Point, he replaced G.A. Moore, the state’s all-time winningest coach. At Hays, he took over for Bob Shelton, who is eighth in all-time wins in Texas, and now he replaces Gary Gaines at Permian.
Gaines was the Panthers’ head coach during the “Friday Night Lights” season and led the team to the 1989 state championship. During his second stint as head coach at Permian, Gaines had a 23-21 record from 2009-2012.
“The community and the city are hungry for the Panthers to be back on top,” Feldt said. “It’s going to take a tremendous amount of hard work from the kids and the coaching staff but we’re going to roll up our sleeves and go to work. We’re going to be 100 percent dedicated to that goal.”
Feldt said he plans on starting his new job at Permian on January 22.
“I’m excited about this new challenge,” Feldt said. “We’re ready to win like Permian is supposed to win. This is the job I’ve always dreamed about and it’s incredible it’s become a reality.”
Hays officials have yet to set a timetable on hiring Feldt’s replacement.