Today's interviewee is North Paulding coach Jim Bob Bryant, whose team is 5-0 entering its game Friday against fifth-ranked Marietta, a Region 3-AAAAAAA rival. Bryant took the North Paulding job in 2018. Bryant was the head coach for North Carolina state championship teams at Havelock High in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Jim Bob Bryant, North Paulding head coach
1. For the second straight season, you've started 5-0. You went to the playoffs as the region's No. 4 seed last year. Where are you this season compared to last? "Our kids have done a great job in the offseason preparing for the season, and we feel like we have improved from last year, especially in the run game. We have rushed for more yards through five games this year than we did in all 11 games last year."
2. What led to your decision to come to Georgia, and what was it about the North Paulding job in particular? "In North Carolina, we were 118-16 in nine years at Havelock, but we were some of the lowest-paid coaches in the state because our county cut a lot of the funding for athletics. I was able to early retire from North Carolina after 20 years and make the move to Georgia where football is valued more than North Carolina at a state level. Financially, it is a better situation in Georgia than it was in North Carolina by a long shot. North Paulding, in my opinion, had the biggest upside as far as room to grow and the potential to have a successful program year after year."
3. What are your observations of Georgia football relative to North Carolina after 1.5 season? "Georgia football as a whole is better than in North Carolina for several reasons. There is good football in North Carolina, but as a whole Georgia football is better. A few key components:
1. Supported at the state and county level better in Georgia.
2. Able to train players better because of that support.
3. Spring practice in Georgia. No spring practice in North Carolina.
4. Competition is better week in and week out in Georgia.
5. Facilities, community support and support at the high school level is better as a whole.
6. The pay for coaches and number of coaches we can hire is a lot better.
7. Budgets for football are so much better.
8. Being able to have a hand in all of the football teams - youth, middle school, ninth grad, JV - is a plus.
9. The six-quarter rule in Georgia allows us to use ninth and JV as a farm system.
10. Georgia is a football state while North Carolina is looked at as a basketball state."
4. There are three top-10 teams in your region, and you're not yet one of them despite a 5-0 record. What might you say briefly about Marietta, McEachern and Hillgrove as to what makes them so formidable, and would you go out on a limb and pick a team to beat? "One of the reasons I came to Georgia is because I love competition. While in North Carolina at Havelock, we had to really get up for three games a year - one game during the regular season, the Eastern finals and the state championship. In Georgia, you have to come ready to play every week because every team has enough dudes that if we do not perform, you can be beat. In my opinion, our region is the toughest region in Georgia. Three teams ranked in the top 10 at the state level and the same three teams ranked nationally before the season started. For us to be able to beat one of those teams, we will have to win the turnover battle, win in special teams and win third-down situations."
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