Bill Unsworth doesn’t have many hobbies, but he does have two passions: Coaching and exercising.
A few days ago, at age 65, he gave one up.
It wasn’t exercise.
Fatigued from a decades-long grind of coaching football, Unsworth is calling it a career. He recently resigned as head coach of the Edinburgh Community High School football team and has no plans — or aspirations — to coach again.
He’s retired and plans to stay
“I learned a long time ago, never say never,” said Unsworth, who directed the Lancers’ program for five seasons. “I’ve had a couple of offers, and I’ve turned them down.
“If I never coached another game, that would never bother me.”
A longtime college coach who accepted the Edinburgh job in 2010, Unsworth has been on the sidelines, in some coaching capacity, for 44 years — first as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Franklin College (1978-82), and most recently at Edinburgh.
Sandwiched in between was a head coaching stop at Wilkes University (1982-89); an offensive coordinator stint at Gardner-Webb (1991-95); an assistant head coaching position at Lakeland (1996-98); a head coaching stretch at Franklin College (1998-2002); and offensive coordinator jobs at Kentucky Wesleyan (2005-06), Saginaw Valley State (2007-08) and Tiffin (2009).
A Franklin resident and standout football player at Franklin College, Unsworth intended to hang up his whistle after leaving Tiffin.
But when the long-struggling Edinburgh program desperately needed help, he un-retired and
went to work steering it in a positive direction.
When Unsworth arrived in 2010, the Class A Lancers had endured five winless seasons in the previous seven. In 2009, they snapped — with their lone win of the year — what had been the state’s longest active losing streak at 52 games.
Rebuilding was not going to
In his first season, the Lancers went 1-8. But from that point, they added to their win total each successive year, with the exception of 2014, when a parade of injuries to starters — including their top running back and quarterback — left them with only 19 healthy players heading into the sectional. The result was a 3-7 record following a 55-7 first-round loss against Class A power Lutheran.
But the difficult season did not factor into Unsworth’s decision to retire. He already was leaning in that direction.
“I’ve been doing this for 44 years, and after a while you figure, it’s probably enough,” he said. “It’s
all the things that go into it.
Time spent away from my wife, summers being all booked up, things like that.
“It’s time to step away.”
Edinburgh athletics director David Walden wanted Unsworth
to stay on a bit longer but understands his decision to retire. The search for a new coach is underway, and applications have begun to trickle in.
“He was great for the program,” Walden said. “I was hoping he wasn’t going to (retire), but I can understand. He probably wants to do other things. He’s been instrumental in developing the program and getting the program back to where it should be.
“He’s going to be missed.”
Unsworth’s record at Edinburgh was 14-35. The high-water mark for the program was 2013, when the Lancers finished 5-6 — their best record in more than 20 years — and won a sectional game for only the third time since 2001.
Edinburgh won two first-round sectional games on Unsworth’s watch.
“We wanted to make Edinburgh respectable,” he said. “We wanted to help some kids out, and we wanted to take the program and make it where it wasn’t a joke, and I think we did that.”
For the time being, Unsworth plans to indulge in other passions that coaching afforded little time for: Spending time with his wife, Linda, and keeping fit.
“I don’t hunt, I don’t fish, I don’t play golf. I ride my bike and work out,” Unsworth said. “I’m just going to kind of relax for while. For me to get back into (coaching), it would have to be a very unique situation.
“I don’t know if that’s ever going to come up.”
Edinburgh’s yearly records under football coach Bill Unsworth
*won first-round sectional game