HOUSTON — Brad Francis said that when he interviewed for the head boys basketball position at Houston High School last year, he told principal Ryan Maier that he thought he would coach at least five or six years.
But something he hadn’t counted on resulted in him informing the school and the players this week that he was stepping down after just one season on the job.
It comes as somewhat of a surprise, since Francis had finally risen to a head coaching post after spending 21 years as an assistant, including 18 at his alma mater, Russia.
He also coached two years at Lehman and a year at St. Henry, and figured after all that, he was ready to take over a program on his own.
The Russia job opened up when longtime coach Paul Bremigan moved on to Troy, and the Versailles job was also vacant. But Francis decided not to pursue either position.
However, when John Willoughby stepped down after 30 years at Houston, Francis went for it, and was named the head coach in late April.
His first and only Houston team was quite inexperienced, with only three returning from a team that won just eight games the previous season. And that’s not an ideal situation for a team in the tough Shelby County League.
The Wildcats finished the season 3-20, but weren’t lopsided losers very often, taking a lot of games down to the wire.
Francis was planning to return as the head coach, but said a business opportunity, with his son Treg, presented itself and he had to make a decision.
“There was an opportunity that came about, and Treg and I are going to pursue it,” he said. “And I couldn’t do both because it will take too much time.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” he continued. “Like I told my wife, you can’t coach varsity basketball and be less than 100 percent committed. That’s not being fair to yourself, the kids or the school.”
He said the decision was a difficult one.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I’ll really miss the kids. It was rough telling them on Tuesday. I loved everything about it and I hope they did too. I was planning on coaching for a long while, but sometimes things change. It’s probably the end of coaching for me, but you never want to say never.”