When some coaches win awards, they’ll talk your ear off about their greatness and how much they’ve accomplished as if a team is a one-man show.
Not Bud Rowley.
He receives an accolade and all he wants to do is praise his players and coaches, and talk about how lucky he is and how much he loves the community.
Perhaps that’s a big part of why Oxford’s head varsity football coach has been so successful and so respected for more than four decades.
Last week, Rowley capped off the Wildcats’ impressive 2018 season by being named Coach of the Year for the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red Division.
“It’s really a great honor. I really appreciate it, but you’ve got to put it all back on the kids,” he said. “It was a very enjoyable season. The kids busted butt. The coaches did a great job. I just happened to be at the top and win the award. Really, it should be an Oxford football award because it wasn’t me. It was those young men and my coaches and our school and our community.”
Playing in one of the toughest divisions in the state, the Wildcats finished the regular season with a record of 7-2. Along the way, they slayed powerhouse teams like Romeo and Clarkston. Oxford then went 1-1 in the playoffs, beating Davison and falling to Lapeer.
Instead of patting himself on the back for this season, Rowley credited his players.
“You’ve got to have the players. If you haven’t got’em, you ain’t winning,” he said.
With the exception of two years in the early 1980s when he coached at Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Rowley has been at the helm of Oxford football since 1976.
“I love this place, always have,” he said. “I tell people I’m Oxford-American.”
Between 1982 and 2009, Rowley led the Wildcats to 28 consecutive winning seasons – the fourth most in state history.
Rowley’s most successful period spanned the 1989-93 seasons. His teams won 55 games and brought home a state championship in 1992.
He secured his 200th win as a coach in September 2007 on Detroit’s Ford Field.
Following this 8-3 season, Rowley’s career record now stands at 263 wins, 144 losses and one tie.
“I have been fortunate here in Oxford to have great kids,” he said. “They’ve just busted butt and played way over their abilities. They’ve won game after game because they were hard workers and believed in what we were doing.”
Over the years, three of Rowley’s gridiron warriors – Eric Ghiaciuc, Dave Rayner and Zach Line – have gone on to play professionally in the National Football League.
In 2011, Rowley was inducted into Oxford’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a charter member.
He has absolutely no plans to retire because he’s still extremely passionate about coaching, thoroughly enjoys being around the kids and football is his life.
“What the hell (else) would I do? I golf, but I’m terrible . . . I haven’t got many friends and I’m not big on yardwork,” he said.
With the 2018 season barely in the rearview mirror, Rowley is already focused on next year. There’s no resting on your laurels in his world. There’s only the next game, the next victory.
“Let’s keep it up,” he said. “Oxford 2019, are you tough enough?”