ODESSA -- He doesn't hold the most wins all time for the Permian Panthers, but Gary Gaines success with Permian may be the most memorable.
His 1988 state semi-finalist team was the inspiration for the best seller, "Friday Night Lights," and he was even portrayed by A-list actor, Billy Bob Thornton, in the movie version of the book.
But Gaines didn't care about the attention he received off the field. His focus was on winning, and his record showed it. He took the Mojo to state semifinals in 1987 and 1988, and celebrated a national title in 1989.
Gaines would leave the program after that year, but twenty years later, the school he loved would call him back.
"Well I guess it's in your blood as much as anything," Gaines said. "It was an opportunity for me to be back at the school I care a great deal about"
It was supposed to be the return to the glory days for the Panthers, but that never happened. In four years, Permian won just one playoff game, and never took home a district title. For a program rich in history, and for a man greater than his pride, something had to change.
On Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, Gary Gaines decided to close the book on his story at Permian.
"When you're a 500 football team, I think Permian deserves better than that, and we need a new face for the program," Gaines said. "I acknowledge that, and that's why I'm retiring."
Gaines didn't live up to his past in his second stint with Permian, but there's no denying he made West Texas a football power. Now, Permian will begin the journey back to its glory days.
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