‘Coach Mac’ steps down after 40 years

By Steve Williams

A 40-year coaching career doesn’t end easily and without contemplation.

Jeff McMillan experienced such feelings last week when he stepped down as the head football coach at Fulton High.

“At the end of every season you always evaluate the program and where you are personally at the stage of life you are in,” said Coach McMillan. “After prayerful and thoughtful consideration I felt it was the right decision personally to step down. I will continue to teach at Fulton. As far as coaching, you never close any doors. I’m exited to see what plans the Lord has for me in the future.”

Many call him “Coach Mac.”

After his playing days at Carter High, where he was a standout, and Austin Peay State University, McMillan took his first high school coaching job as an assistant at Central in 1982.

His coaching stops after that year were: Lenoir City (1983), South-Young (1985-86), Central (1987-2009), Fulton (2011-13), Carter (2014-16), Fulton (2017-23).

His longest stop was the 23 seasons at Central, where he earned the reputation of being one of the top defensive coordinators in the state on the late Joel Helton’s coaching staff.

During McMillan’s time in Fountain City, the Bobcats reached the state semifinals in 1990 and 1991, and advanced to the Clinic Bowl State Championship Game in 1999. He also served as interim head coach at Central during the medical absence of Helton.

After spending a year away from the sidelines in 2010, McMillan became the DC at Fulton in 2011 under first-year head coach Rob Black and his defenses were a key to the Falcons’ Class 4A state titles in 2012 and 2013.

McMillan left Fulton and went to Carter, his alma mater, in 2014 and took on his first head coaching position for three seasons. His defensive prowess emerged with his first Carter team as the Hornets nearly pulled off a Week 10 upset against undefeated Fulton, holding the state’s highest scoring team to only 18 points.

He guided Carter to three Class 4A playoff appearances and a 14-19 overall record.

McMillan returned to Fulton as Co-Defensive Coordinator in 2017 and became the Falcons’ 13th head coach in 2022 after Black resigned.

Both of McMillan’s two teams at FHS qualified for the playoffs, but the Falcons slipped to 2-8 in the regular season this year and were 4-6 in 2022.

“I would like to say thank you to Jeff McMillan,” said Black, Fulton Athletic Director. “It has been a blessing to have Coach Mac as a part of our school and football family here at Fulton High School. He has served both as an assistant and head coach and has been a part of some of the best football teams in Fulton history. Coach Mac has a good football mind, and he is a good man. He will always be a part of the Fulton family. We will immediately start our search for the next head football coach at Fulton High School.”