Georgia football team gets new coach three days before opener

It took Miller Grove (Ga.) High School nearly seven weeks to name a new head football coach before Damien Wimes, the former defensive coordinator at Southwest DeKalb, was appointed on Tuesday afternoon. That might have been fine in the middle of the offseason, but this is hardly the offseason: Miller Grove opens its season on Friday night.

In fact, not only is Wimes moving into a head coaching job just three days before his team's first game, he's taking the job from an interim coach who had already been at the school: Defensive coordinator Darrell Caldwell. Wimes is starting a new job, taking over a team from another defensive coordinator, who has to serve as his assistant.

Sure sounds like a slap in the face to Caldwell, and some of his defensive stars, like Brandon Jackson-Bell, at right.

"I'm going to tell the kids to expect greatness, and ... I know we're in a transition period, but we have a schedule to play and they have goals they want to reach. I'm excited about being on the journey with them, and let's win some games.

"I am going to leave the staff as it is," Wimes said. "Most importantly, I am going to help a lot with special teams and be an extra pair of eyes on both side of the ball. I'll try to put in a little bit of [my philosophy] each week."

Just as Wimes' arrival might be off-putting for Miller Grove, his departure is equally devastating to Southwest DeKalb, where he was a player and assistant coach for 11 years. The Panthers will now enter their key showdown with Tucker High School on Friday without a defensive coordinator.

Miller Grove's coachless run began July 1, when the program's prior head coach, Jasper Jewell, left to become an Atlanta Public Schools athletic coordinator. The DeKalb County schools dragged out kicking off a replacement committee until after Miller Grove's new principal, Matthew Priester, was hired on Aug. 4.

That means it took that search committee 20 days to find and then hire the program's new football coach. If only those 20 days had been a little less precious and not focused solely on building toward a new season, Wimes' first hours on the job might have felt a lot more relaxed.

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