Paul Laurence Dunbar football head coach Chris Mullins will not return next season.
Mullins confirmed to the Herald-Leader that he turned in a letter of resignation to school administrators on Monday.
When he was hired in February 2016, Mullins became the eighth head football coach at Dunbar since 2000. His departure makes 2.125 years the average length of tenure for the school’s previous eight coaches.
“It was clear after I met with administration that what was best for the program was for someone else to lead it,” Mullins said.
The Bulldogs went 3-18 in Mullins’ two seasons at the helm. They did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs this season.
On-field success was light under Mullins but he cited multiple signs of progression in the program since his takeover. He said that there were three different officiating crews over the course of the season that complimented his players’ demeanor. Grades underwent a “massive improvement” and participation numbers were strong, he said.
“We had over 80 players last year and 70 this year, so from those perspectives we had kids participating and we were teaching them how to compete respectfully and to prepare respectfully,” Mullins said.
Because of a combination of graduations (15 seniors in 2016) and transfers, Dunbar returned only two offensive starters and three defensive starters this season.
“A lot of parents and community and support falls when you go 0-10, even though we lost a lot to graduation and to transfer,” Mullins said. “We’re just in a business today where, unfortunately, you can’t really make excuses.”
Mullins was the head coach at Greenup County, where he played high school football, for five years before taking the Dunbar job. There, he said, he was “like the family doctor” who knew the ins and outs of the program.
“When you come in from the outside, like when I was brought in to fix Dunbar, I’m not really the family doctor; I’m more like an ER doctor, where the first thing I can really do is stop the bleeding and try to figure out what the issues are and diagnose ’em and treat ’em that way,” Mullins said. “Obviously things were continuing to change and needed to continue to change, but in 17 months it’s difficult to diagnose effectively and come up with effective plans. But the change needed to happen because the confidence just waned so fast, I think they needed new energy.”
Mullins will remain employed at Dunbar, where he is a math teacher. He will step away from coaching for a while, he said.
“Coaching is something that I love and I love the relationships that are built,” Mullins said. “I’m gonna take some time off for sure because I’ve never done it. This’ll be the first time in my career that I’m just a teacher, so it’ll allow me to focus a lot more on that craft and be more present with my family. I’ll see how that goes.”