Iconic high school football coach steps down
By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Sports Writer
Longtime Oxford football coach Maurice “Bud” Rowley announced he is stepping aside on Monday, Nov. 4 after more than four decades in charge of the Wildcats’ gridiron program.
“I am the luckiest man alive to have been able to coach here in Oxford,” Rowley said.
“I love the kids, coaches, parents and the community, but it is just my time. I had a remarkable 46 years with this program, I’ll always bleed Blue and Gold.”
One of the most successful coaches in the history of Michigan high school football, Rowley’s impact went far beyond the Wildcats’ iconic blue turf.
“I have never met an individual that is so passionate about the town he lives in,” Oxford Athletic Director Jordan Ackerman said in a statement.
“Coach Rowley is an icon of this town and he will never be forgotten.”
A couple of members of Rowley’s final team, Nathan Call and Matt Pullman, spoke about the coach’s impact on their lives.
“I first met Coach Rowley at a summer camp when I was going into fourth grade,” Call, a two-way starter at wide receiver and defensive back, recollected.
“I immediately recognized he was a good leader. He told us, ‘Everything you do – win.’ That’s something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.”
Call’s father, Matt, is on staff as an assistant coach working primarily with the wideouts and cornerbacks.
Like Call, Pullman played for Rowley at the varsity level for two seasons.
“I moved here at the end of freshman year and my cousin introduced me to him,” he said.
“First thing he asked me was, ‘How tough are you?’ I replied, ‘Tough enough.’ I hope I proved myself right. Coach made me a better person. Made me a better man, and he has built that into the program here,” Pullman said.
Pullman, the Wildcats’ scrimmage yards leader, is exploring a couple of options to play at the collegiate level.
Along with junior offense lineman Drake Biggie and senior linebacker Logan Nicks, Call and Pullman were recognized as All-League selections by the Oakland Activities Association Red coaches.
An Adrian native, Rowley received a degree in education from Northern Michigan University in 1972. Joining Oxford High School as a teacher and coach the following year, he was promoted to the head coaching position in 1976.
Inheriting a struggling program, Rowley’s first stint resulted in just 11 wins over four seasons. Replaced by Mike Buck after the 1979 season, he spent the next two years at Bishop Foley Catholic.
Rowley would return to the Wildcats sideline in 1982 and establish Oxford as one of the most consistent programs in Oakland County. The Wildcats posted 28 consecutive winning seasons from 1982-2009, the fourth-longest streak in the history of the state of Michigan.
Inducted into the Oxford Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011, Rowley’s teams won 10 Flint Metro League titles from 1984-2009. Leading the Wildcats to their only state championship in 1992 at the Pontiac Silverdome, he took Oxford to the state title game three times and remains the winningest coach in FML history.
Having previously retired from teaching in 2010, Rowley finishes his outstanding career with a 264-152-1 record in 42 seasons donning the gold pants as head coach.
While at ease with his decision, Rowley does not want to call this a retirement.
“It’s not a retirement, it’s just taking a step back and looking at things,” he said.
“I’d still like to be involved with the game. Maybe I’ll go coach with my son, maybe I’ll apply for another job. Just taking a step back and more of a hands-off approach.”
Currently the head coach at Hazel Park, Kyle Rowley was a three-year starter for his father at quarterback and safety. Graduating in 2003, he continued his career as a student-athlete as a walk-on at Michigan State University and later at Saginaw Valley State University.
Ackerman will begin a thorough search for the school’s first new head coach since the Ronald Reagan administration.
“As with any position, we’re required to post it and go through the proper protocols,” he explained.
“We’ll find the right guy to continue the tradition of Oxford football.”