Today's interviewee is former Newnan coach Max Bass, who was selected this month for induction into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame. Bass had a record of 203-103-7 in 29 seasons as Newnan's head coach before retiring after the 1994 season. His teams won four region championships. Bass has made Newnan his home since 1966.
Max Bass, GACA Coaches Hall of Fame selectee
1. What was your reaction to the news of being selected for induction? "I appreciate it. I was the first president of the Georgia Athletic Directors Association, and I've been in their hall of fame. I'm in the one here in Coweta County [the Coweta Sports Hall of Fame]. I was the first one they put in that one. I appreciate these things and what everybody has done to help me along the way."
2. How did you get started in coaching football in Georgia? "I coached up at Cedartown in 1962 and 1963, and in '63, we won the state championship. Doc Ayers was the head coach, and he went to Georgia to be an assistant, so I wanted the Cedartown job. I called Coach [Bear] Bryant [whom Bass, an Alabama native, came to know well from coaching camps] and asked him about it. He paused and said, 'Didn't y'all just win the state championship?' I said yes, sir. 'You think you're going to win another one?' I said we're going to try. 'How many have you ever won?' I said that was the first one. 'Then go somewhere they've never won. If you win a few, they'll think you're a coach.' So I went to Bolles in Jacksonville in 1964. They had been 1-19. I won the first game there and we won two or three more. In 1966, I came to Newnan. They'd won five games in three years. The first two years at Newnan, we were 18-1-1 and went on to win 200 games. We just had great support from everybody. When you're winning, they won't let you leave. They put a down payment on my first house. You go in a store and give them a check and it won't go through sometimes. I loved Newnan. I liked the people. I loved our church. When people are that good to you, you don't want to go anywhere else."
3. Is there a single memory of a game, a team or a season that stands out most to you? "The most memorable thing was when Corky Kell, Dave Hunter and Buck Godfrey and me, we got those kids to playing in the Georgia Dome. The first Dome game that we were in, we dressed out 156 kids. We probably had 45 cheerleaders from ninth grade, JV and varsity. The band had 200 or 300 in it. That's what it's all about - involving kids and letting them be proud. That meant more to me than anything else. [Newnan defeated Coach Godfrey's Southwest DeKalb team 27-6 on Sept. 5, 1992, in the first regular-season football game ever played at any level in the Georgia Dome. It was the start of the annual season-opening event now called the Corky Kell Classic, founded by Kell and Hunter.]
4. What's the most important skill to coaching? "Human relationships. Put yourself around great people. That's another thing that Coach Bryant taught me. I asked him, 'What's the most important thing you do?' He said, 'I think I've figured out what my job is. Football isn't 10 percent of my job. My job is dealing with people, my coaches, players, alumni, administrators.' Everything has to do with human relationships. I used to tell my kids I don't want you hanging around with the wrong kind of people. I want you around good people. I was fortunate. I was around good people and good coaches. Coaching is also helping the kids be better people, get scholarships, all that kind of stuff. I believe that if you help people get where they want to go, you usually get where you want to go."
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