Tim Murphy, who developed Clovis East High's football program from infancy to a Central Section power before experiencing a collapse in the past couple years, has resigned as the Timberwolves' coach.
"It was fun, being the new kid on the block and having the whole pageantry come to life," he says. "But I've put in the time and my tenure has run its course. My passion here is not quite the same. I need a change of venue; I need a new challenge."
Murphy's innovative double-wing offense that generally remained a step ahead of the Central Section game, particularly in his first eight seasons, delivered an 82-39 record with two section championships and six Tri-River Athletic Conference titles in 10 years at Clovis East.
Emphasizing strength and conditioning to offset a general lack of size, the Timberwolves did it with only two players who would receive major-college scholarships.
"They were a machine; they were feared," Bullard coach Donnie Arax said recently.
Murphy, a physical education teacher, took the 2009 season off for personal reasons -- largely related to spending more time with his daughter in the Bay Area. And that signaled a downturn for Clovis East football that Arax called "startling."
The Timberwolves, who had never lost consecutive games in any of Murphy's first eight seasons, went 4-7 under interim coach Ryan Reynolds in 2009.
In Murphy's return, they went a combined 5-17, including an 0-10 TRAC mark, in the past two seasons. He missed the final four games of the recently completed 1-9 season because of his father's illness in the Bay Area. Murphy said he hasn't taught since Oct. 17 and will not return as a teacher to Clovis East.
But while the emotional flame admittedly cooled as a coach with the Timberwolves, he says he expects it will return with intensity -- only somewhere else.
And he said it's clear there will be no shortage of opportunity. Murphy -- for years in demand as a speaker on the double-wing, defense and motivation -- said he has coaching job interviews scheduled for Racine, Wis., this week; San Antonio on Dec. 5; and Las Vegas on Dec. 12.
Former Clovis East principal Jeff Eben, who hired Murphy in January 2001, is in his first year as principal at Case High in Racine.
And, while Murphy said his ultimate goal is to close his career where it began in the Bay Area (Ygnacio Valley High), he also said -- without elaborating -- there is a good chance he will remain in the central San Joaquin Valley.
He has been pursued previously by the Central and Fresno unified districts. And there is a vacancy now at Fresno High, where Murphy's name had surfaced before.
"I don't want to give the impression I'm burned out on football," said Murphy, 41. "Coaching's still in my blood. It's my life and it's what I will continue to do until I retire."
In retrospect, he said, he should have followed his instincts and checked out at Clovis East before this season: "I gave it strong consideration and I think, if anything, I went one year too long.
"It wouldn't be fair to myself, the kids and coaches -- anybody -- to stay any longer and try to turn it around."