Not many high school coaches in Alabama can claim they learned about the profession from Paul “Bear” Bryant, but Oneonta coach Don Jacobs is someone who can.
Jacobs played quarterback for the 1979 University of Alabama national championship team.
“Coach Bryant was a big influence on all of his players’ beliefs,” Jacobs said. “If you didn’t believe the way he did, he kind of persuaded you to believe the way he did.”
Jacobs has known since before he enrolled at Alabama that he wanted to coach after his playing career ended. He has spent the majority of his 34-year coaching career at the college level – at Jacksonville State and Troy. On the high school level, he has coached at Luverne, Robertsdale, and Central-Coosa.
“I realized a long time ago, I’m not very smart,” Jacobs said. “But I ran a little baseball clinic in high school over spring break, and it was a great thing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and knew I wanted to go into coaching at some point.”
Jacobs took the job at Oneonta in 2010 and had the Redskins in the 4A title game by his second season. Oneonta fell just short of the grand prize in both 2011 and 2012, when the Redskins finished as the Class 4A runner-ups. Jacobs took Oneonta back to the 4A title game for the third season in a row in 2013, and that time, the Redskins emerged victorious.
“I’ve got two national championship rings, and the one I wear is the state championship ring,” Jacobs said. “So, what does that tell you? To me, it’s exciting to be able to draw the kids in one direction and raise them up. When I got here in 2010, the kids who won the championship as senior were ninth-graders. They played for state championships three years in a row. When they finally won one, as they tell it, they were not going to be denied.”
Jacobs, 57, has no plans of walking away from the game he loves any time soon.
“I’ve got plenty of years left because I still enjoy what I do,” Jacobs said. “I’ve never come to work one day in my entire life. That’s the key point. When it becomes work, it’s time to think about retirement. It can’t just be about winning championships. When we won that state championship, I was happy but I kind of expected it.”