Coaching legend William Earl Griffin inducted into the Hall of Fame

Published 3:31 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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From left: AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs, AHSAA HOF Inductee Earl Griffin, AHSAA & AHSADCA Assistant Director Brandon Dean, AHSADCA President Richie Busby. (Photo by Travis Gupton/ Times-Journal) 

By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

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Mr. Dallas County High School is now Mr. Hall of Fame as William Earl Griffin became one of 13 inductees into the AHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Monday night during a banquet in Birmingham. 

Griffin graduated from Verbena High School in 1960 where he played baseball, football and basketball for the Red Devils. It was in 1964 when Griffin began his journey at Dallas County High, starting as a math and P.E teacher while also coaching football. The rest, as the saying goes, was history, and teams coached by Griffin will be forever etched in the record books.

“I was from Chilton County. I had never been to Dallas County except for a basketball tournament, Griffin said “When I pulled up down there in 1964 after a four year stint at Auburn University, I remember looking at the service station sign. Gasoline was 25 cents a gallon and I decided to buy a loaf of bread for 14 cents. Most of the coaches taught physical education or history. I chose to go the other route. I could have chose to do other things and made a lot more money but I am satisfied with what I did.” 

In 1964 the Hornets went 0-10 in football. This was the seventh season in a row the Hornets had gone winless, but that would quickly change with Griffin at the helm. In his 14 years as a football coach, Griffin’s teams never had a losing season, and he went on to win nearly 100 games, posting an overall record of 91-39-6 with a Region record of 16-5. He had nine All-State players in his 14 years of coaching football.

While his success on the football field was excellent, it was in coaching basketball where Griffin found his most success at Dallas County High. Griffin led the 1967-68 team to a 19-8 record including a appearance in the semifinals of the state tournament.

There was no sport Griffin could not coach and lead young men to success. From 1970 to 1978 he coached the Hornets baseball team, and in 1970 he won the Class 1A/2A state title. Dallas County Circuit Court Judge Collins Pettaway Jr. played baseball for Griffin in 1976-77 and was in the audience Monday night to celebrate his coach’s induction into the Hall of Fame.

“Everyone was pleased and satisfied,” Pettaway said. “It was especially satisfying for me because it was an honor that he deserved and it was an honor that he deserved to have bestowed upon him.”

While coaching baseball, Griffin made the Class 3A semifinals in 1975 and 1976, and from 1968 to 1971 his teams went on a 48-game winning streak. He was so instrumental in the baseball program in Dallas County that the baseball field and the field house are named after him in his honor.

After more than 30 years of leading a generation of young men in Dallas County to success, Griffin retired in 2000, but remained very active in the community he brought so much success to. He is an umpire with the Central Alabama Football Officials Association, the Dallas County Umpires Association, Selma Football and Basketball Officials Association, Chilton Baseball Umpires Association, and the Chilton County Softball Umpires Association.

Despite having received the Hall of Fame nomination and winning the titles at Dallas County, Griffin says that all of that comes second to the life lessons he hopes he taught the young people he coached and still come in contact with each day.

“I want to teach students life lessons,” Griffin said. “I want for boys to become men and make good daddies, make good husbands, and that kind of thing. The ultimate and most important thing I try to stress is not winning and losing in sports, but a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the most important thing.”

James Carter, who coached football at Autauga and basketball at Dallas County, emphasized the impact Griffin had on young men in a statement he made to the AHSAA. 

“Although winning is important, he did more with his players than just win,” Carter said. “He made men out of boys. He taught respect and demanded respect. He taught his players discipline, cooperation, teamwork, leadership and many other qualities that help guide a person long after he graduates from high school. This is what so many of his players remember and thank him for today.”