His son, Brett, was on the Blue Devil bench. But I’m sure he was smiling for his “basketball child”, coach Jim McDowell, who had just led Lebanon to its first district championship in 16 years. The last time it happened, Mayor Hutto was Coach Hutto and in the process of guiding the Devils to their second straight state tournament berth.
It’s been a heady few days for the Hutto coaching tree. McDowell’s Devils joined Matt Bradshaw’s Watertown Purple Tigers and Jason Welch’s Macon County Tigers as district champions. At that moment, Troy Bond’s Oakland Patriots were playing for the 7-AAA title, but lost to Blackman. Three had coached on Hutto’s staff and three had played for him, either when he was a head coach or was an assistant coach under hall of famer Hester Gibbs. Incidentally, two of Bradshaw WHS assistants, Leon Love and Brian Gaines, also played for Hutto (as head coach or assistant).
“It was a good night,” Hutto said of Tuesday night. “I hate it for Troy, but it was good to see all of them to do well.
“Having an opportunity to work with those guys before, it does bring joy to your heart.”
I asked McDowell about his former coach moments after his Blue Devils collected their championship plaque.
“A lot of the the foundations of our program go back to Coach Hutto,” McDowell said. “He’s been a great influence on me as a person, as a man and also as a coach. I really am thankful that he’s still around and we still have a really great relationship. It’s great to see all those guys like Coach Bradshaw and Coach Welch, who was here tonight, Coach Bond, all kind of coming from his lineage. It’s been fun seeing us all have good years this year.”
“They helped me more than I ever helped them because they were all great assistant coaches, except McDowell, he didn’t coach for me, he played for me,” Hutto said. “We tried to create an atmosphere that was good for the players and good for the coaches. When the wins came, that’s what made it exciting.
“They were a special group to me and it shows because they’ve all gone out and become very successful.”
All four teams will play at 7 p.m. tonight in first-round region tournament action as the TSSAA schedule has the games from here on running concurrently. Hutto, of course, will follow Brett and the Blue Devils from the stands. But it’s the 21st century and there are technological advantages which didn’t exist back in the day.
“The one good thing about the Internet is you have Coach T, so I can get on that during the Lebanon game and follow the others,” said Hutto, looking down the line at a possible reunion of his proteges.
“It would be great to see all those guys be in the state tournament, and it’s still possible,” he said. “I might get a motel room in Murfreesboro and spend the week because they could all get there, and that would sure be exciting.”
As exciting as seeing your children do something great.