MOUNT STERLING — It has been a poorly kept secret for weeks that Happy Osborne, a college basketball coach for more than three decades, had accepted an offer to take over the boys' program at Montgomery County High School.
Osborne's surprising move from the college level to the high school ranks became official on Wednesday when he was introduced as Montgomery County's new coach.
What was the game changer for Osborne?
"At the end of the day, I'm a Kentucky guy. I really, really love Central Kentucky, and I want to live here," he said.
Osborne, 54, also said getting away from the rat race of college hoops and having more time with his wife, Bobbi, their 24-year-old daughter, Madison, and his extended family played a major role in his decision.
Osborne spent 31 years on the bench at Georgetown College, 15 as head coach. He had a record of 456-81, including an NAIA national title in 1998. He left the Tigers after the 2010-11 season to become an assistant at Tennessee Tech.
"I love Division I basketball, and I loved working with (Tennessee Tech coach) Steve Payne. They couldn't have been better to me, and I appreciate that.
"But I wanted to get back to Kentucky."
Montgomery County assistant superintendent Phil Rison, a longtime friend of Osborne, said he was "tickled to death and pleasantly surprised" that Osborne took the job. "I'm humbled he'd even consider us.
"That being said, what a great community we have here, and what opportunities we offer. A lot of people ask why would somebody go from college to high school coaching. My answer is, this could be the best coaching job in the state."
Osborne, who has already bought a house in Mount Sterling, agreed.
"I think I'm walking into one of the best places in America," he said.
Osborne replaces Tony Wise as Montgomery County's coach. Wise had a 23-11 record in one season with the Indians.
Osborne will be in the school building in some capacity, possibly as student advocate.
His top basketball assistant will be former Montgomery County star Billy Ray Fawns, who played for Osborne on Georgetown's 1998 national title team.
Osborne won't be the first successful college coach to take over a high school program in the 10th Region.
Guy Strong won a national title at Kentucky Wesleyan and coached at EKU and Oklahoma State before returning to high school hoops at Clark County.
The late Lake Kelly, who had head coach stints at Austin Peay, which he took to three NCAA Tournaments, and Oral Roberts, also coached at Clark County and Fleming County.
Being back in Kentucky the first week of May only reinforced Osborne's decision.
"On Saturday, I've got to decide whether to go to the Derby, to a Derby party, or to Keeneland," he said.
"I'm back home."