‘Friday Night Lights’ Head Coach Gary Gaines Has Passed Away At 73

Coach Gary Gaines

If you’re ever interested in getting to know more about the borderline religion that is Texas high school football, I’d highly suggest checking out H.G. Bissinger’s novel, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream, along with the movie Friday Night Lights, which was inspired by the book.

The novel and movie follow the former Texas high school football powerhouse Odessa-Permian Panthers in the year 1988, documenting head coach Gary Gaines and a few of his players, when expectations were through the roof and it was a state championship or bust.

They perfectly depict the insane atmosphere of playing high school football in a tiny town in West Texas and the pressure there is to win it all year in and year out, and it’ll make you wanna take a drive down to the Lone Star State to catch a Friday night game in a heartbeat.

With that being said, Odessa-Permian lost one of their all-time greats yesterday, Gary Gaines.

According to TX HS Football, Gaines passed away at the age of 73, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, which he was diagnosed in 2017.

Gaines coached the Panthers from 1986 to 1989, and although the team fell just short of a state title in ’88 when the novel was being written, he led them to both a state and national title in ’89.

The Hall of Fame coach played quarterback for Angelo State, and had other high school coaching stints at Petersburg, Denver City, Tascosa, Monahans, Abilene, San Angelo Central, and two different stints at Odessa-Permian, where he retired after the 2012 season. He compiled a 127-93-5 high school coaching record.

He also coached linebackers at Texas Tech from 1990-1993, and was the head coach for Abilene Christian University from 2000-2004, where he compiled a record of 21-30.

He was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor in 2013, and inducted into the Angelo State University Hall of Honor in 2019.

Gaines leaves behind his wife, Sharon, two daughters, and five grandchildren.

RIP to a high school football coaching legend.

RIP Coach Gaines

He was played by Billy Bob Thornton in the 2004 movie, Friday Night Lights.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock