The decision did however come with one considerable caveat. Bullock will replace former coach Alex Wilson — who was released on May 26 after guiding the Bulldogs to a pair of playoff berths in his three-year tenure — on an interim basis.
Bullock will officially begin work in his new capacity July 1. He’ll hold the interim position through June 30, 2011. Bullock spent 10 seasons as an assistant, the last five as defensive coordinator. He was selected out of an initial field of 10-plus candidates.
Anniston High School officials interviewed three finalists — including former Bulldogs head coach Rodney Bivens, now the wide receivers coach at Tuskegee University, and Jason Bates, a former assistant at West Alabama and now assistant at Haralson County High School (Ga.).
Bivens, who won a state championship at Anniston in the mid-90s, dropped out of contention for the position Saturday, citing difficulties meeting the certification qualifications in one year among four assistants he planned to bring. That paved the way for the way for Bullock’s hiring.
Despite having no head coaching experience on the gridiron, Bullock has seen success as Anniston’s head girls basketball coach, taking two teams to the Final 48 state tournament in five seasons at the helm. He’s also coached the Bulldogs’ baseball team.
His Bullock’s proficiency is evident in his productivity.
“I guess the most important thing is that I played four years of college ball and graduated,” Bullock said in his address to the board. “I was the first one in my family to sign a college scholarship.”
“Academics has never been a problem for me. I always give out awards for academics. You can look at the track record of the girls I’ve coached. Out of 26 girls, half of them have had 3.0 or higher GPAs. Nine of them have signed college scholarships. I know in my heart that I can do the job.”
The former four-sport letterman during his days at Anniston in the late 70s and early 80s brings a wealth of managerial and administrative experience to his new role. He worked as a manager and personnel director for Burger King and Tyson, respectively, before coming back to Anniston in 2000.
“The athletic director is responsible for handling the entire program’s eligibility,” Bullock said. “But that’s not a big issue for me. Management was my first degree. When I was
personnel manager at Tyson, I (had) over 1,400 employees.”
Now, Bullock’s attention is fully focused on pressing forward with the 45 or so young men he’s rounded up amid the month-long coaching search for conditioning training and workout sessions. Bullock said he won’t make any wholesale changes on the offensive or defensive sides of the ball but will adjust the team’s modus operandi here and there to maximize their potential.
“Now, that they know that I’m the interim coach, I think they’ll have a lot of relief,” Bullock said. “They pretty much know that I’m not changing anything. They’re going to be running the same stuff. I’m not changing much because what we’ve been doing is successful.”
Bullock was more steely than starry-eyed following Tuesday’s meeting. Still, he was resolved to continue restoring the Bulldogs to their championship pedigree.
“I wouldn’t say my career has come full circle,” Bullock said. “I’m just getting started. The battle’s just begun.”
Anniston hosts Class 5A Erwin in a Thursday night matchup in its season opener on Aug. 26.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 235-3575.