Former Richmond Hill High School football coach Lyman Guy didn’t mince words when asked why he left a program he’d turned into a Savannah-area powerhouse to take the job as head coach and athletic director at Toombs County, a school that competes in a smaller classification.
“Toombs was closer to home and it was a significant pay raise,” said Guy, who made $74,000 in 2013 and led the Wildcats to their first back-to-back winning seasons and state playoff appearances in the program’s history.
As for the pay raise, it’s unclear what Guy will make at Toombs County.
His predecessor, Stephen Versprille, was paid more than $78,000 in 2013, but more than $50,000 of that came from his job as an instructional specialist in Dublin, according to opengeorgia.gov.
Versprille was let go in December after only one season due to an affair with a school administrator.
In 2012, Toombs paid Versprille’s predecessor, Shane Williamson, more than $92,000. Without coaching supplements in 2013, Williamson’s salary was slightly more than $67,000, according to opengeorgia.gov.
Guy has a career mark of 75-54 and has won two state Georgia Independent School Association state titles at Robert Toombs Christian Academy a decade ago. He was 28-15 at RHHS.
Guy, who spent long hours commuting from his home near Vidalia to Richmond Hill, also said Friday he thought coaching supplements in Bryan County were too low.
That probably comes as no surprise to school officials, who are studying both coaching supplements — money paid to coaches and other teachers who work outside normal school hours — and salaries for employees in the system who don’t teach.
At a recent Bryan County Board of Education meeting, the board spent more than an hour wading through pay data for everyone from custodians to coaches as they began preparations for the system’s 2015 budget year.
And various board members have said they favor higher supplements for coaches — though finding the money could be difficult.
At a January work session, a local businessman told the board private sources might help make up the difference to keep winning coaches, noting both Guy and Bryan County High School head football coach Mark Wilson were likely being recruited by other schools. Wilson hasn’t said whether he’s had offers.
But Guy also had good things to say about RHHS and his staff, noting there were qualified candidates to take his job already in place.
“I believe there are several great candidates on staff — but more importantly, I believe it’s a great staff to try to keep intact,” he said.
But Guy, who often speaks of his faith, kept his advice brief for the next coach at RHHS.
“‘God first and kids second,’ is a great formula that has helped me,” he said, also noting that of his program’s achievements, he’s proudest of the “spiritual growth of our staff, primarily me, and players,”
Guy said he thinks the Wildcats can continue to win despite the new region alignment, which has moved it from arguably the state’s weakest AAAAA region to the state’s toughest, and the possibility RHHS could move to the state’s largest classification in two years.
“(I have) no doubt at all things are in place to continue the success we have experienced in the past four years,” he said. “Would you have thought five years ago we would be where Richmond Hill is now?”
Guy also said he appreciated the support from the community and urged people to continue to back the program.
“I am so very grateful for the community support,” Guy said. “My first game, I think we had more in the band than the stands. We came a long way, and remember it is Richmond Hill’s team representing their community.”
He said he had plenty of people in Richmond Hill to thank, but “not enough room in this edition to thank all … more importantly, I would like to thank God.”
The school system is advertising for a new coach on its website and elsewhere. Among the skills administrators want in a coach is “the ability to develop and maintain a successful high school football program.” It does not define what it considers success.
The system also wants its candidate to have a minimum of three years “successful coaching experiencing” as either a head coach or an assistant.
School officials haven’t put a timetable on hiring a replacement.