GREENSBORO — Brandon Wiggins has become the second Guilford County head football coach to lose his job since the regular season ended.
One day after Jared Rolfes learned he would not be retained at Page, Wiggins announced that he had been let go after eight seasons on the staff at Smith, including the last four as head coach.
“I made it public today because I know they’re about to open it up, so I wanted to let anyone know who was interested in the job or interested in me,” Wiggins said tonight. “It’s just part of the business.”
A former Golden Eagles and Elon University linebacker, Wiggins went 12-33 overall and 5-17 in conference play at Smith. The Golden Eagles’ best season during his tenure was 2017, when they finished 5-7 and reached the NCHSAA Class 3-AA playoffs. But they slipped to 1-10 overall and 0-5 in the Piedmont Triad 3-A this year.
“I know we struggled this year and had a lot of injuries,” said Wiggins, 30. “We were young at some spots and a lot of key players went down. It was a tough 1-10 season, and our schedule doesn’t help. With a new administration and new principal (Dr. Melvin Marshall), you set the tone with your football program. He wanted to move in another direction. I understand that and respect it.”
The hardest part of the process for Wiggins was telling his players this afternoon that he would not be their coach next season.
“It took me everything in the world not to break down and cry,” the 2007 Smith graduate said. “First and foremost, the kids don’t need to see that. In a lot of cases I’m probably the most consistent person in their life. I’ve been there for eight years now. … Former players like (Hampton defensive lineman) Desmond Sturdivant and (Charlotte offensive lineman) Cameron Clark, who’s about to go to the NFL, they hit me up to thank me for putting them in good situations. That’s the hardest piece. I have a freshman on the team whose father was a senior captain and cornerback when I was at Smith. Those types of relationships and bonds … it’s kind of tough to swallow. But I totally understand.”
Wiggins thanked “the administration, athletic director, staff, parents, alumni, community supporters and most of all student-athletes” in his tweet.
“Ben L. Smith has helped me mature as a student, mentor, teacher, coach and most of all man, and I will always cherish the life lessons and relationships that I have developed here,” he wrote. “I will also always be grateful for the opportunity to coach at my alma mater and watch young men from my neighborhood succeed both on and off the field.”
Wiggins, who succeeded Antonio Kirkpatrick as the Golden Eagles’ head coach, said he plans to finish the school year as a teacher and track and field coach at Smith unless another opportunity presents itself.
“It was all a learning experience,” he said. “I took the job when I was 26 years old. The first year we were away for every game because of stadium renovations. The second year we kind of turned the corner. Last year we kind of fell backward and the injury bug really hit us this year. There’s nothing that I regret. I’m grateful for the opportunity. … We tried to do it the right way as much as possible.”
Smith will always be home to Wiggins, and he wants success for the Golden Eagles’ program.
“I think there’s talent there,” he said. “It has the foundation to be a premier program in the area and in the state. It’s just getting the right tools in place to turn it completely around. … There’s no bad blood, and I’m going to do everything in my power to help this transition go as smoothly as possible so that the next coach can turn this completely around.”