LUBBOCK, Texas — Gary Gaines, the 63-year-old high school coach at the center of the “Friday Night Lights” book and film, has left the Odessa Permian sideline for the last time.
Gaines said he resigned from the West Texas football program he helped make famous. He said he doubts he’ll coach again but wasn’t sure what’s next for him.
He leaves with a 69-28-1 record in eight years as Permian’s head coach, including a 23-21 mark in his last four years. In all, he coached Permian from 1986-89 and 2009-12, and was an assistant there for three years in the early 1980s.
Gaines led the program to a state 5A championship in 1989. The Panthers were undefeated that season, just a year after H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger spent a year in town researching his best-seller, which chronicled how high school football binds an oil patch community.
Made into a movie in 2004, Bissinger’s book was a hit everywhere but Odessa. Locals felt Bissinger betrayed their hospitality by writing about the sociological woes surrounding the team and town, including allegations of racism and a win-at-all-costs mentality. An NBC television series with the same name was less about football than the community depicted.