In a quiet, yet firm, way Jack Fligg could really motivate young football players. Just when they thought there was nothing left to give, Coach Fligg got them to reach for more.
"I remember when he was coaching the offensive line at Georgia Tech for us, and I'd walk by his office and he'd be sitting in there with the 300-pound guy, looking at film," said Bill Curry, a longtime friend and head football coach at Georgia State. "And he'd say to him, 'Do you see this? I know you think you're going full speed, but you're not. That is not full speed. We're gonna go out there today and go faster than this, OK?' And it worked! He would get these guys to play so well, play beyond themselves, and they were doing it for Coach Fligg."
Jack Carlyle Fligg Jr., of Marietta, died Aug. 11 at home from complications of Parkinson's disease and esophageal cancer. He was 81. His body was cremated and a memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, Marietta. Arrangements were handled by SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society, Marietta.
The Decatur native always wanted to be a coach, said his wife, Jonell Fligg. His coaching career began in 1954 at West Fulton High School. In 1958, Mr. Fligg took the helm of the football program at Grady High School, where he was also the athletic director. In 1964, he left Grady and went to coach on the college level, starting as the head freshman coach at Georgia Tech under Bobby Dodd.
Two years later, he took an offensive coaching position at West Virginia University. Similar positions followed at Texas Tech University and the University of South Carolina. Before he joined the Georgia Tech staff in 1984, he spent a year scouting for the Dallas Cowboys. After his time at Tech, Mr. Fligg coached at the University of Alabama and served as the assistant athletic director for football operations at the University of Kentucky, where he retired in 1999.
Through all of the moves that his career demanded, Mr. Fligg always put his family first, his wife said.
"We were his other team," she said. "He would always go before us and prepare a place and he'd spend hours looking for the right house in the right community."
Matt Fligg, the head football coach at Monroe Area High School, often worked hard to make sure his father would be pleased with his decisions.
"I remember thinking I'd go from coaching high school to college, just like he did, but when I got to coach on the college level, I found out I liked coaching high school better," the younger Coach Fligg said. "And I was worried that he'd be disappointed when I told him I was going back to coaching high school, but that wasn't the case. He couldn't have been more proud, and he told me so."
Matt Fligg said there are several lessons his father taught him about coaching football, but those were not the most important.
"He not only showed me how to become a successful coach, but how to be a successful father," he said. "I hope I can do as good of a job with my family as he did with us."
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Fligg is survived by two daughters, Terri Grapner of Alpharetta and Joanna Fligg of Duluth; brother, Ted Fligg of Panama City, Fla.; and seven grandchildren.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.