Popular Florida prep football coach acts out real-life Friday Night Lights story arc

Ben Rohrbach
Prep Rally

On Sunday night, Planta (Tampa, Fla.) High coach Robert Weiner informed his players and the local football community in a tearful goodbye that he had accepted the wide receivers coaching position at the University of South Florida.

On Tuesday morning, USF announced Weiner changed his mind and returned to the high school he led to four state championships, according to a Tampa Bay Times report.

Sound familiar? In the Season 1 finale of the TV series Friday Night Lights, fictional coach Eric Taylor left Dillon (Texas) High to accept a quarterbacks coaching position at Texas Methodist University, and by Season 2 he returned to the team he led to a state title.

As of Tuesday morning, Weiner's open letter to his own Panthers (Coincidence? We think not.) remained on the team's website.

"I became a teacher and coach so that I could possibly make a positive impact upon people that mean the world to me and upon people that I love so dearly," he wrote. "I hope I have done that in some small way. However, what I have found in the process is that I have been impacted and blessed 100 fold by those very same people. I have been lifted up in times of difficulty; I have been supported in moments of challenge; I have been thrilled in many moments of celebration; and most of all I have been inspired by each of you to use all of God’s gifts to be the best I can be for the sake of others. I have ultimately learned that there is 'Strength Through Unity' in a bond, a link, that will never be broken."

Apparently, that bond was tighter than he even he originally thought. Weiner returns to Plant, where he owns a 102-19 record in the past nine seasons, including eight district titles, five state finals appearances and four state championships between 2006-11.

"Coach Weiner is a great coach and a man who will continue to do great things at Plant," USF head coach Willie Taggart wrote in a statement. "We knew pulling him away from the young men in the Plant program would be very difficult for him, and we wish him continued tremendous success moving forward."

Weiner hosts an annual "Quarterbacks Dinner" with his four former QBs who led his teams to state titles: Robert Marve (2006), who nearly led Purdue to an upset of Notre Dame this past fall; Aaron Murray (2008), who recently broke Peyton Manning's SEC career touchdown record (89) as a junior at fourth-ranked Georgia; Phillip Ely (2009), who backed up A.J. McCarrron on Alabama's road to the BSC National Championship; and James Few (2011), a freshman at Cornell.

Sounds like something Eric Taylor might do with Jason Street and Matt Saracen.

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