McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

April 22, 2014

Buffs’ Pratt turns down Yukon

By Matt Goisman
Sports Writer

McALESTER — Any coach that’s had the success McAlester head football coach Bryan Pratt has had will likely draw interest from other schools. Pratt’s been no exception, getting looks this year from Class 6A schools like Broken Arrow, Muskogee and most recently Yukon.

Though Pratt has acknowledged he might someday move on, it won’t be this season. Pratt turned down a job offer to become Yukon’s new head coach Monday.

“I really like it here,” Pratt said Tuesday.

“I just felt like it was the right thing to do to stay and keep trying to pursue a state championship.”

The Yukon offer, Pratt said, was certainly enticing. It offered a considerable raise, a chance to coach 6A football and a beautiful multimillion-dollar athletic facility that hosts the state track meet every spring.

But Pratt said taking the job would mean moving farther from his family in Broken Bow. It’d force his daughter Bailye to start high school in a new city, and he’d have to drive much farther to watch his son Caden play at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant next fall.

It’d also mean Pratt wouldn’t be able to get his new team on a spring and summer workout schedule, which often has to be planned earlier in the year.

“I just felt like it wasn’t the right situation,” Pratt said.

“It’s hard to get going if you move somewhere this late. ... It wouldn’t have been the spring ball like I have here.”

Pratt said he met with his players Monday to discuss the team’s upcoming plans and to dispel any rumors that he’d taken the job.

“Everybody knew that I was probably going to get offered the job,” Pratt said.

“I just wanted to make sure they understood that I was here and that rumors aren’t always true.”

How late Yukon offered Pratt the job, he said, definitely played into his ultimately turning it down. And while there might be other jobs still out there, Pratt said he’s now shifted his focus entirely back to the Buffs and won’t consider his options again until at least  after the 2014 season.

“I made a commitment here that I’m going to try to bring back the gold ball, and we’re not going to stop doing it just because I got offered a job somewhere else,” he said.

“I like the interviewing process just because it keeps me on my toes.”

Offers from Muskogee and Yukon may have offered more than McAlester, but Pratt turned them down. He said that at this point in his life, it’s unlikely a job enticing enough to pull him from McAlester exists.

“This is a place where I just feel like I’m supposed to be right now,” Pratt said.

“Our kids are phenomenal as far as work ethic. They understand how to win, and that’s tough to teach.”

McAlester athletic director Bill Holt said he wasn’t surprised that Pratt was offered the Yukon job. Holt also said that while a purely lateral move — for instance to another 5A school for the same salary — might be taken personally, he’d absolutely understand looking at jobs that would offer more money, a better facility or fewer teaching responsibilities.

“You have to do what’s best for your family,” Holt said.

“Coach Pratt is an excellent coach. He’s well-organized. I was here when he was hired, and I’m glad he’s staying. I think he’s built an excellent program, and I’m just excited he’s going to be here another year.”

McAlester’s spring football season should begin around May 19 — a week after the state track meet. The spring Black and Gold game will take place May 30, then the Buffs will head to Tulsa University Team Camp from June 1-3.

The Buffs will then get a short break, which some might spend playing in the Jr. Sunbelt Classic baseball tournament, then Summer Pride begins June 23.

Contact Matt Goisman at mgoisman@mcalesternews.com.