Seven weeks after delivering Buchanan High’s first winning football season in five years and one that featured a co-championship in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, coach Mike Jacot has pulled a stunner and resigned.
He says it was his call and came without pressure from the school’s administration.
Bears athletic director James Gambrell says the same: “It was completely Mike’s decision and there was nothing negative about it. We have to respect his decision and support which direction he wants to go.”
It was completely Mike’s decision and there was nothing negative about it. We have to respect his decision and support which direction he wants to go.
Buchanan athletic director James Gambrell
Jacot, 11-23 in three years at Buchanan, including a 7-4 mark this season, actually says he wants to go nowhere while continuing to teach physical education at the school: “If the next coach would have me, I’d love to be a part of the program (as an assistant); I would embrace it. I don’t have an ego; I don’t need to have my name flashed up there. That’s where I am in my life right now with my kids and family. My priorities, just the way I go about business, I think I’d better serve Buchanan in another role.
“You come into a situation with goals and objectives, and I think I’ve met those; I think I’ve been a good soldier. Buchanan is a great place to coach in a great community and school district as well. But I think it was time – and I know it seems like a short time – that I did what was needed to be done and now it’s time for someone else to take the reigns and move forward.”
I think it was time – and I know it seems like a short time – that I did what was needed to be done and now it’s time for someone else to take the reigns and move forward.
Jacot, 40, informed Gambrell and principal Ricci Ulrich of his decision Monday morning in the school’s athletic department in what had been scheduled to be a standard post-season evaluation.
“I was surprised,” says Gambrell, who oversees an athletic department that won TRAC titles in six of nine sports in the fall after capturing TRAC Supremacy Awards in three of the past four years. The Bears have long been ranked among the state’s elite overall athletic programs.
“I go into every year knowing this is a very high-profile position in a high-intensity athletic program,” Gambrell says. “I expect some turnover among our coaches, but this one I didn’t. Coach Jacot did a great job for us.”
Gambrell says, “as any good AD would,” he’s been prepared with a short list of candidates for Jacot’s successor, whenever needed: “We are ready to contact a list of guys shortly. We want to get someone in here as soon as possible while we also want to be diligent and make an educated decision.
“I don’t have a preference if the coach comes from Southern California, Northern California, from a parochial or public school. The biggest thing is to find a person who can relate to the community and understands the importance of establishing relationship with kids.”
When asked to grade Jacot’s relationship with players, Gambrell said: “Good,” without elaborating.
Jacot – pronounced JAY-caught – was a former seven-year coach at Orange County’s Rancho Santa Margarita who arrived at Buchanan with an iron fist and weight room demands.
The Bears, with 16 sophomores accounting for a third of their roster, went 1-10 in his first season and 3-9 in his second before launching the program’s first winning season since 2010 (6-5) last fall with a 16-14 conquest of Central Section then-reigning Division I champion Edison. They eventually tied Clovis atop the TRAC at 4-1.
“He did a good job building the program and creating toughness,” Gambrell says. “And to go out on his own terms and as a TRAC champion is a huge credit to him.”
Jacot says his decision was influenced by the fact his oldest of two children, Michael, is a seventh-grader at Buchanan feeder Alta Sierra Intermediate who plays football. And Jacot says he wasn’t comfortable with the thought of his son eventually playing for him.
“I put myself in a teenager’s shoes, I’m in a room with players and they’re saying this and that about your dad. That’s a tough situation and I’d prefer not to put him through that.”