Not long ago, one of Gary Rose's assistant coaches at Carl Albert got up on a Sunday morning to head to the office to continue preparations for the Titans' next game.
“I'm going to work,” the coach told his wife.
“You're not either, you're heading up to that frat house,” his wife said.
Rose recounted the story Saturday as he and his staff reviewed Friday night's loss to Southmoore and started preparations for their next game against Coweta.
“There's no drinking, no cussing and no bad stuff,” Rose said. “But other than that, that's exactly what it is. We have a great time together.”
Rose is now in his 18th season as Carl Albert's coach, winning eight titles during that stretch.
Only Jenks coach Allan Trimble (9) has more titles since what is now the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association began awarding football championships in 1944. Clinton coach Mike Lee is the only other coach to win as many.
During the 2010 season, Rose wasn't sure how long he'd be able to keep coaching football.
He was in the hospital for more than a week with colitis.
“You lay in a hospital bed for nine days, you start thinking you'd like to get back out and coach, to golf, fish, travel with my wife, spend time with my kids and grandkids,” Rose said. “The significance of those things is really magnified when you think you might lose them.
“When you get into a mess, health-wise or in another way, you either run from God or run to him and I've always been taught to run to him. I was tremendously amazed by the number of people that loved, cared for and supported me then.”
A big part of that support comes from his assistant coaches.
Mike Goff has been with Rose for nearly 30 years, the first decade at Del City and for the last 18 at Carl Albert. Tex Rollins was at Carl Albert when Rose took over the Titans. Several other members of the staff have been on board for most of the last decade.
One of the reasons coaches have stuck around — the ones who haven't left for head coaching opportunities at least — is the way they're treated on the staff.
“Gary is one of those guys that has allowed me to grow,” Goff said. “I was a defensive coordinator for about 12 years and he doesn't try to micromanage. He turns things over to people. It takes a special person to be able to do that.
“He allows his offensive coordinator to do what they think is best and to coach the way they coach.”
Jeff Craig was already at Carl Albert when Rose arrived before the 1995 season.
Craig, now the head coach at Blanchard, was with the Titans for the first four years of Rose's tenure after a season as an assistant under Todd Graham.
Rose shaped Craig as a head coach.
“The X's and O's part of it, I've always felt really comfortable with that,” Craig said. “But just the way to treat people, the way to treat kids, to respect your administration, those are the things I took away. A lot of guys you work for feel like they don't have a boss and that they're the boss. Gary respects authority and he respects the process. He believes if you treat kids right, treat your coaches right, good results will come.”
One of the things Chris Behrus, who is now the head coach at Plainview, remembers most about his time at Carl Albert was Rose’s attention to family.
“He made the comment to me one day when I was first starting that when you’re here, your family is welcome,” Behrus said. “I sort of shrugged it off and didn’t think much about it. I brought my son up there one Saturday, though, and he’s running through and I thought being loud and I kind of gave him a stern look. But Coach Rose pulled me aside and said, ‘You let him be who is is and everything’s going to be OK. We’re still going to get out work done.’
“I’ve really taken a hold of that as a head coach my self with the guys on our staff.”
Just two years after he wasn't sure he would be able to continue coaching, Rose is having as much fun as he ever has.
“We have a lot of laughs,” Rose said. “Those guys are just really good men and really good coaches. We enjoy working together, we like each other, we really don't have any conflicts and if we do, they get solved really quickly.”
He doesn't have a plan for how long he'll continue coaching.
“It's in the Lord's hands,” Rose said. “I enjoy it. I like kids; I like my coaches; my health is really good right now. We'll see. It's a year-to-year thing at this point in my life.”