Johnny Beaver/For the Times Matthew Bates talks with a Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) referee prior to the start of the Clay County High football team’s recent game at Red Boiling Springs, which was Bates’ final contest as the head coach of the Bulldogs. Bates was hired as an assistant coach at Macon County High School last week.

Johnny Beaver/For the Times

Matthew Bates talks with a Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) referee prior to the start of the Clay County High football team’s recent game at Red Boiling Springs, which was Bates’ final contest as the head coach of the Bulldogs. Bates was hired as an assistant coach at Macon County High School last week.

It didn't take long for Matthew Bates to find another school to coach football.

Bates was hired on Tuesday as a teacher and an assistant coach at Macon County High School.

It was the culmination of a week that consisted of drastic changes.

"It was hectic from about Wednesday morning through about Friday night," Bates said. "Then, it started calming down. There's no emotions any more. They're all gone.

"Then, (you're thinking), 'Is it going to work out when I get to Macon?' By Monday afternoon, it looked like it was a real possibility. It was done by Tuesday morning."

Due to distractions in Bates' personal life (as he is currently going through a divorce), school officials in Clay County decided to take the reins from head coach Matthew Bates during the week prior to the team's game at Red Boiling Springs on Aug. 24.

Bates continued to conduct practices and coached the team to a 36-14 victory at Red Boiling Springs.

He informed his players that he would be leaving during the team's pre-game meal that day.

Jake Johnson -- who was the head coach at Macon County Junior High and an assistant coach for the Macon County High program -- succeeded Bates. Johnson was victorious in his coaching debut for the Bulldogs last Friday, a 34-20 victory over visiting RePublic.

Bates contacted Macon County High head coach Kyle Shoulders when he realized that he would no longer be coaching at Clay County.

"I called him," Bates said. "We have mutual friends in coaching. I got his number, and we talked. Things went well.

"We talked film and football and what happened. I wasn't trying to hide anything. That helped facilitate this a little bit better."

The 32-year-old Cookeville native was in his second season at the helm of the Bulldog program, helping Clay County to a 6-5 record last fall before suffering a 65-6 loss to Whitwell in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs. Clay County finished in a three-way tie for second place in Region 4-1A last season and improved to 3-0 this season with Friday's win.

Bates had previous coaching stops at Cookeville (two stints), Upperman and for seven seasons at Stone Memorial before he was hired as the head coach at Clay County.

He will be coaching the offensive line at Macon County, a position that he has coached in 11 of his 14 seasons as a high-school coach. He went through three practices with the Tigers last week.

"At this point, the hardest thing is getting to know the players, not just their names but their personalities," Bates said. "I'm late in the game.

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"Schematically, it's just football. There's some differences (in terminology), but it all makes sense when you see it ran."

Bates is the behavioral intervention instructor at Macon County High.

"To say I'm thankful is an understatement," Bates said. "It's more like blessed. I'm in a community that loves football and that is excited for it. I know (Tiger defensive coordinator and former Red Boiling Springs head coach) Mike Brown from being at Red Boiling Springs (which was in the same district with Clay County).

"It's not about me. It's about the kids and what I can help the kids do. To get the opportunity is nice. I was dreading not being in football for a few months."

Macon County has struggled over its first two games, in losses to Smith County and Westmoreland.

"I see a young team, but I see a bunch of guys who are wanting to be coached and willing to be coached," Bates said. "That's the key thing.

"Coming off the good run they had the last three or four years with (record-setting quarterback Seth) Carlisle, now, they're transitioning to a whole new identity with Shoulders ... but they're willing to learn. That's the whole motivation of this thing."

The Tigers play at winless White House Heritage -- which suffered a 37-6 loss to visiting Springfield last Friday -- on Friday night.

"Coach (Shoulders) probably said it best the other day in practice ... the first two are over," Bates said. "We can't change it. We get a chance to play White House Heritage next Friday. We get a chance against them before we start region play.

"The playoffs are still right in front of us."