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Football coach who inspired Friday Night Lights book and film resigns

Dec 19, 2012, 11:23 AM EDT

garygainesap AP

His name is Gary Gaines, the 63-year-old high school coach who inspired portrayals by Kyle Chandler and Billy Bob Thornton in the TV series and movie of the same name, Friday Night Lights. The head coach at Odessa Permian (Texas) for eight years, he served two separate stints from 1986-89 and 2009-12, compiling a 69-28-1 record.

On Tuesday he called it quits, resigning as head coach. He did not say if he would coach again.

“We’re going to give it to someone else and, hopefully, they can make more out of it than we did,” Gaines said. “We came here to make some deep playoff runs and we weren’t able to do that. That’s what (Permian fans) expect, and I expect as well.”

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.

But in his second stint at the school, the Panthers had just one playoff win, and were 5-6 this past season. That’s a big deal in Texas high school football — in fact, some speculate that Gaines was asked to resign. He would not confirm or deny that.

“It was just one of those things,” he said. “I understand when programs don’t improve sometimes the head coach has to bear that responsibility.”