A high school football coach known for Friday Night Lights, Gary Gaines, passed away at age 73.

Austin, Texas The football coach of the Texas high school squad featured in the book and movie Friday Night Lights, Gary Gaines, has passed away. He was 73.

The former coach died on Monday in Lubbock after a protracted battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a statement from the Gaines family.

Gaines had a 30-year coaching career that included numerous stops in West Texas, but his four-year tenure as the head coach of Odessa Permian’s wildly successful team is what made him most famous. Later in his career, Gaines went back to the Permian.

Buzz Bissinger’s best-selling book, which depicted a program and school that prioritized football over academics and blamed racial comments on assistant coaches, provided a detailed account of his 1988 squad.

Gaines claimed he never read the book and felt deceived by Bissinger after the author spent the entire 1988 season with the squad. Gaines was portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton in the 2004 film.

The book, which portrays Gaines as a sympathetic coach caught in a high school program’s win-at-all-costs mentality in football-crazy Texas, was also made into a TV series.

During the 1988 season, which saw Permian lose in the state playoffs, star running back James Boobie Miles suffered a knee injury during a preseason scrimmage. The movie featured a lot of Miles’ character.

The book included shots of Gaines’ house’s front yard being marked with for sale signs. From 1986 through 1989, he had a 47-6-1 record.

Gaines departed Permian after guiding them to the fifth of their six state titles in 1989 and went on to work as an assistant coach at Texas Tech.

He then served as the coach at Abilene Christian before coaching two of Permians rivals, Abilene High and San Angelo Central. Gaines began a second four-year coaching tenure with the Permians in 2009. He also served as the sports director for the school districts in Odessa and Lubbock.

Former Permian assistant coach Ron King, who is now retired, told the Odessa American, “I just can’t find the words to pay respects.” It’s a significant loss for the coaching industry. He mentored numerous coaches, many of whom he took under his wing.

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