Tyree brings interesting style
Iwas recently working on a story about John Tyree’s return to ranks of Imperial Valley football coaching as the new head coach of the Calexico High School Bulldogs.
I’ve known John mostly from his reputation as he left the Valley the year I arrived (1974) and I was actually down visiting family in December of 1973 and remember reading about Imperial High School’s CIF-Southern Section 1A championship victory over Paso Robles.
I knew of him from conversations with some of his assistant coaches and former players and had met him several times.
I wrote the story when he was among the inaugural inductees into the Imperial Valley Football Coaches Hall of Fame at a game at Tiger Stadium.
I’d also followed him through other successful coaching stops, reading about his success in Fontana in Riverside County, first as coach of the Fontana High and then A.B. Miller High along with John Muir High of Pasadena, all of whom he took to CIF-Southern Section championship games.
I’d heard he was successful after leaving California but I didn’t know exactly that in Oklahoma he took teams to six state playoffs in seven seasons including two state semifinal games or how his high school coaching went in Texas or his community college and four-year college experience.
Still, I knew enough to know that he was at an age and position in life to rest on his laurels and not to be moving from Texas back to the Valley to help resurrect the Bulldog program.
So I wondered, as I’m sure many have, why all the moving around and why Calexico, now?
Well, it took about five minutes into a recent conversation with John to understand — it’s the challenge each school presented and every one of them has been different.
Tyree apparently thrives on the challenge and really hasn’t lost the desire to take over a program and be successful.
“It’s hard to stay that long anywhere as a coach because you start running into problems that you never can solve and you get tired of running into walls,” Tyree told me, noting that he had retired twice. “I was going a little crazy and Calexico called and here I am.”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Except the Bulldog players he’s dealing with are more than a half a century younger than he is and their grandparents are possibly younger.
“I got a small ranch in Texas and had some plans, but to me retirement is overrated. It’s unhealthy when you’re not doing anything,” Tyree said. “Age is not an issue … I’m not 25 like the first time I came and that may be a blessing.”
How is that you might wonder? It’s because the first time he came he had an idea of what he wanted to do as a head coach but now he knows that what he does works.
“At Imperial we wore Oklahoma colors and ran the Wish-Bone and I’m still running it,” Tyree said. “We’ve refined it over time and we’ll look at the personnel and make adjustments as we go.”
Tyree shows the same confidence about his defensive schemes noting it’s still the same base he ran in Imperial and that the Bulldogs will add to it as they can.
“We have advanced packages on both offense and defense and will introduce them as soon as appropriate,” Tyree said. “You can go out there and run whatever you want but we start with a base and take it as far it will go … you don’t want to get too far out ahead of yourself.”
That’s the key in my mind, not that Tyree has some magic wand, but that he has a plan and one that has worked. One that he understands how to manage and one that he has the patience to implement it.
So maybe Calexico is getting not just a solid football coach, but one that fits better than a casual observation might lead people to conclude.
That Calexico will exceed last season with its almost endless second-half running-clocks is a given, just being competitive will be a tremendous improvement.
How much they exceed the past few seasons will depend on a number of areas, some of which no coach can control but I’m of the opinion that there are areas coaches can control. Of those I believe Tyree’s teams will show improvement and success. That’s the resume that Calexico bought into because quite frankly that’s his record.
How much success and how soon, I’m not sure of because as I’m fond of saying no coach can win without committed and talented players.
I am sure that if Tyree gets the school’s and the players’ commitment and if they return his commitment to them, he will utilize the talent as well as any coach.
It seems to me that the next few Calexico High football seasons should be very interesting.