It was a difficult move to make but it was one that he thought about for a long time and ultimately made in concert with his family.
Scott Bairnsfather has resigned as the head football coach at Archbishop Shaw after 15 years on the job. Bairnsfather told his team Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve been here a long time and it’s time,” Bairnsfather said. “I’ve spent more time as a head coach than I thought I would. I always wanted to see entire classes through their senior years. I did it again and again and again. I did not want to be a head coach into my 60’s. There are changes in the school with a new administration coming in. Now seems to be the proper time.”
The decision was Bairnsfather’s and his alone.
After serving as the head coach at Holy Cross from 1998-2001, Bairnsfather returned to his alma mater as head coach in 2002. In his initial season, the Eagles went 0-9. After going 2-8 in 2003, the Eagles broke through in 2004, going 7-3 and reaching the state playoffs.
He subsequently led Shaw to three Class 4A state championship game appearances, in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Bairnsfather was an all-district safety at Shaw in 1983 and he served as a junior high coach for the Eagles in 1987 before becoming a varsity assistant under Hank Tierney, serving through 1997.
“We had a run of going to three straight state championships and did not lose a regular season game in those three years,” Bairnsfather said. “The biggest accomplishment is that I still talk to many of my former players, keeping in touch and it is a joy to see what they have accomplished in life.’
In 19 years as a head coach, Bairnsfather has a record of 112-102.
“Wow! 30 years in one place,” Bairnsfather said. “I got to play at the school, I got to be a freshman and junior varsity coach and I got to be an assistant coach and a head coach at my alma mater. How many people can say that? I have been so fortunate. It is a blessing for me, particularly being the head coach.”
Bairnsfather considers himself to be very fortunate.
“In the last 15 years, I got married, had a child and became head coach at my alma mater,” Bairnsfather said. “What else can you ask for? I look forward to spending more quality time with Amy (wife) and Sydney (daughter), who is 10. She was born the third week of the playoffs in 2000. That is how you remember things as a head coach.”
Whomever Shaw athletic director Tom Alef hires will be just the fourth head football coach in 49 years at Shaw, following Joe Zimmerman (1969-82), Tierney (1983-2001) and Bairnsfather. All three are among the 10 coaches in Catholic League history to win 100 or more games.
“From Coach Z to Hank, this has been a place of stability,” Bairnsfather said. “I still have guys who have coached here that Shaw was the best place they ever worked. I will truly miss it. There is something about the west bank kids that everyone loves. I want to thank Coach Tierney, Coach Zimmerman, Terry McGaha, who hired me at Holy Cross, Mike Begg, who hired me at Shaw and Father Lou Molinelli, our current president who has been very supportive.”
Bairnsfather has enjoyed coaching many players at Shaw and Holy Cross with a few standing out in his mind.
“As an assistant coach, Ryan Clark,” Bairnsfather said. “As a head coach, Matt Keller and Trey Ragas. They helped me stay here a little longer. Gino Giambelluca was the best offensive player I ever had until Daniel Borne and Ragas came along. There were so many. They were truly old school players with how they prepared, approached and played the game.”
As for his future, Bairnsfather has left the door ajar to return to coaching.
“I will always be a Shaw Eagle and I love this school but it is time for a change,” Bairnsfather said. “You never say never to anything regarding being a head coach again. You could step away initially but you could do it again. I would consider being an assistant elsewhere, to step back and work in a specific area again.”
Defensive coordinator Tommy Connors will serve as Interim head coach until a replacement is named. Connors was an outstanding defensive back at Shaw, graduating in 2006 before playing at Southeastern Louisiana. Connors joined the staff of Bairnsfather in 2011.
The search for a permanent replacement begins immediately with Alef conducting it.
“Tommy is well qualified to handle the task at hand and he will definitely be a consideration for the permanent position,” Alef said. “We will accept applications and look at all candidates with an eye on long term success but we plan to act swiftly in the process.”
Alef has nothing but appreciation for Bairnsfather’s contributions to his alma mater.
“Scott has been an integral part of Archbishop Shaw since attending high school here in the 1980’s,” Alef said. “What he has meant to the school and the life of the student’s he has touched is immeasurable. He loves Shaw. It had been a long time coming but it was still difficult when he made the decision. I am happy for him. He can relax a little bit now.”