At Jenks, Isaiah Irvin and Bobby Klinck were teammates on the 1998 and 1999 football teams that were state champions.

They shared that beautiful experience, and today they share this one: Both are first-year head football coaches at a time when they’re not actually allowed to coach football.

At 38, after having been Edison’s defensive coordinator for six years, Irvin is a first-time head coach at Hale High School. If not for the coronavirus disruption of the school year, the two-week spring practice would have begun Monday.

There will be no spring practice for the Rangers program, which has been dealt defeat in 89 of its past 99 games.

“First time to get the (head-coaching) opportunity, and then you’ve got to go through all of these obstacles at the same time,” Irvin said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity. We’re going to make the most of it, as soon as we can get on that field.

“I’m not the only coach going through it at a new school.”

For every coach at every level of every sport, the circumstances of 2020 are unprecedented. There are unique challenges for first-year coaches, though, and more than 30 Oklahoma high schools have new head football coaches. Among them are Jonathan Brown at Booker T. Washington, Jerry Gardner at Glenpool and Ben Palmer at Victory Christian.

There also is the 37-year-old Klinck, the new head man at Sand Springs.

Klinck has an impressive jewelry collection, with three championship rings as an All-State performer and, as Owasso’s defensive coordinator, Class 6AI rings in 2017 and 2019.

If Klinck can get a sixth ring with the Sandites, it would result from Sand Springs having achieved only the second state football championship in school history. Sand Springs won its only gold ball in 1966.

Before the sports world was doomed to this period of inactivity, Klinck formulated detailed plans for spring practice, for summer camps and conditioning sessions, and for preseason camp.

Instead of being at the football facility, preparing a new staff and new players for spring practice, Klinck was at home during a recent afternoon. He had just finished mowing his yard before taking a seat on his patio and talking with the Tulsa World.

“I had all of that stuff planned out,” Klinck said. “I had fundraising stuff planned for the booster club that we can’t do anymore.

“It’s really all in flux right now. Every week, it might change or it might not. We’re just holding tight.”

Klinck and Irvin also have this in common: Neither coach has completed the hiring of assistant coaches. Klinck was hired two months before schools and sports facilities were shut down, so he at least had time to become acclimated.

However, Klinck has gotten almost nothing in the way of actual football activities with his new Sandite players, who compete in the same Class 6AII district as the Bixby juggernaut and always talented Booker T. Washington.

Irvin’s move from Edison to Hale was finalized in late April — more than a month after schools were locked for the rest of the semester.

During spring practice, Irvin would have learned the names and abilities of his Hale players. Instead, because his appointment coincided with a pandemic that forces students to learn virtually and play ball not at all, Irvin still has not made eye contact with the athletes he’ll coach during the 2020 season — if there is a 2020 season.

“Well, we’ve made eye contact,” Irvin said, “but it was Zoom eye contact. We’ve been doing (video meetings) each Friday. Just catching up and trying to keep the kids motivated. It’s a crazy time right now, you know.”

A look at the playing and coaching career of Sand Springs’ Bobby Klinck

Watch now: Tulsa World sports editor Michael Peters talks about the chances of college football being played this fall

Bill Haisten


Twitter: @billhaisten