Monday, McCall became the ninth head coach for the Cardinals since they last made the state playoffs in 1994 and already has a list of ideas on how to reinvent the culture and the program that hasn’t won three games in a season since its latest run to the postseason. McCall was hired less than three weeks after his predecessor Xarvia Smith stepped down following a three-year tenure, stating, “I haven’t moved the program the way I wanted to.”
Even though the Cardinals won just two games in each season under Smith, he had them competitive in many of them, especially in 2011 when they lost four games by five points or less.
McCall will rebuild Osborne’s program by playing a non-region schedule over the next two seasons. Osborne was reclassified into Class AAAAAA when its enrollment numbers exceeded the 1,800 student cutoff.
The Cardinals were placed into Region 4AAAAAA where they would have had to contend with playoff teams McEachern, Hillgrove, North Cobb and Marietta – teams that are likely to have three times the players – had they played a full region slate.
McCall, who was the head coach of Avondale in 2010 before the school ceased operations, served as linebacker coach all three years under Smith, and is aware of the talent already within the program.
“Coming to Osborne from Avondale, I feel Osborne is a step up,” said McCall, who posted a 2-8 record in his only season at Avondale. “Osborne had better players than what I had at Avondale. I saw the situations and the games we were in and a few small improvements in technique could turn those close losses into wins.
“I had a chance to put some things in place (at Avondale) before the school shut down and I always had those things in the back of my mind. This will be an opportunity to put those in place.”
One of the things he shared was taking a simple approach to the game on both sides of the ball. He said Osborne will likely run a wishbone offense after the Cardinals attempted the spread offense under Smith last fall. On defense, where McCall is more versed, they plan to run multiple looks.
McCall said he will apply all the things he’s learned under previous coaches during his years of experience.
He’s spent the majority of his career as a defensive line, linebackers and an offensive line coach. He’s been a college assistant at Jacksonville University and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla.
A couple of high school stops he’s made was at Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville and South Panola High School in Batesville, Miss., which has won seven state titles since 2003.
McCall is a four-year letterman at Mississippi State in the early 1990’s under Jackie Sherrill and began his coaching career at Mississippi State under his mentor.
“We interviewed quality coaches and Byron was the standout of those candidates,” Osborne athletics director Brandon Mann said. “We’re looking forward to seeing big things from him. He had a good plan he presented to us and members of the community and we’re excited about the possibilities.”
Other coaches who influenced McCall during his career were current Auburn cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith, Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett and former Ole Miss defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn.
He said he’ll apply each of the lessons he had learned from those coaches in helping Osborne to the next level.
As he gears up for spring practice and summer drills, McCall said he would “evaluate, teach and see what level of ability (the players) are. It’s also a way of motivating them to reach a level they haven’t seen before.”