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Tim Jordan on the Savannah High years, the decision to resign, and his message to all of his former players

Updated September 7, 2023 at 2:54 p.m.

Tim Jordan resigned as the head boys basketball coach and athletic director at Savannah High School on Wednesday, September 6, 2023. Jordan, 63, made the decision to step down at Savannah High after accepting a new gig with the Savannah Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) to serve as an Assistant Athletic Facilities Program Coordinator.

“This is the kind of job I always wanted after I retired. I never wanted to – people that know me will tell you this – I wasn’t ever one to kick back and relax,” Jordan said of his new job during a Wednesday afternoon phone call with Connect Savannah. “I was always taught to leave something better than you found it. My momma taught me that and I feel like (Savannah High basketball) is in a good position to keep it going after this.”

“The time was right.”

Jordan said he actually began the new job with SCCPSS – where he’ll be working alongside SCCPSS Athletics Director John Sanders as well as other longtime athletics department employees – on Tuesday. He has already taught his last class at Savannah High, and last year’s basketball team was the last to play for him. Jordan’s (then unknown) farewell season ended with the Blue Jackets making the state playoffs for the first time in six seasons. The squad finished at 21-8 overall. In three years prior, the Blue Jackets had compiled an overall record of just 21-46. Hence, his reference to leaving things better than he found them.

“I’ve had a great career,” said Jordan. “I always got so much support from the school board, the parents, coaches, teachers and the kids were always the most important. I don’t have much to complain about.”

The news of Jordan’s new role with the district was made public through the SCCPSS Athletics Department on Wednesday morning.

“It’s with great pleasure we welcome Coach Tim Jordan as our Assistant Athletic Facilities Program Coordinator,” the department’s 8:54 a.m. post on Twitter said. “With over 30 years in Health and Physical Education, coaching and athletic director duties, we are excited to have his knowledge and experience.”

In his 28 seasons coaching for “The High,” Jordan tallied a record of 555-251 (.683) and won the 1998 GHSA Class 4A State Championship at a time when 4A was the highest classification in Georgia. His Blue Jacket teams had a habit of making deep postseason runs, as Jordan guided SHS to the state semifinals six different times while making the state championship game four times.

To call him a legendary basketball coach in the state of Georgia would be putting it lightly. He also made an impact in the classroom. His first year out of college (after starring for Savannah State University on the football field) was in 1983, when he worked as a student-teacher at Savannah High. The next year he accepted a full-time position at Savannah High teaching Health & Physical Education: “What’s more important than your health? I taught the most important subject there is.”

He enjoyed the 1984 full-time teaching experience and decided to stay another year when they offered him one. And that (more or less) kept happening for 36 more years. Jordan started as a Savannah High man and he never stopped being one.

“The rest,” he says. “The rest is history, right?”

Dozens of Jordan’s former players and assistants are now coaching their own programs in Savannah and across the southeast. They can only hope to achieve half of the success Jordan had as the Blue Jackets’ head man. Using a “Four-Corners” tactic, Jordan had a unique ability to (seemingly) control the action on the court, without ever getting out of his chair. Without ever wrinkling up any of those smooth-looking vests he was known to wear occasionally.

“Coach Jordan is kind of like the father-figure around here for all of us young coaches in the city,” Kevin Evans, the head coach at Groves, said of Jordan during a phone call with Connect on September 6. “He’s still going to be around and the people will see him probably as much as they did before. He just won’t be coaching over (at Savannah High)."

Evans is one of many coaches around Savannah who expect to still receive the fatherly treatment from Jordan moving forward. Jordan, perhaps in a most fatherly fashion, said something similar when asked about his public presence at SHS and elsewhere now.

“I’m not sure about a father figure … for some of these guys … Some of them all I need to give them is a slap upside the head every once and a while.”

Before the shot clock era in GHSA basketball, the four-corners (made famous by Dean Smith at North Carolina) would force teams to come chase a completely spread-out Savannah High starting 5. It would bring once frantic games to a grinding halt (in the pre-shot clock era) and oftentimes it would save a player of his from getting into foul trouble by limiting the number of possessions.

If the X’s and O’s of Jordan served to frustrate opposing coaches and fans, it was his infectious positivity and world-class smile that won over even the maddest of foes. And yeah, he may have used his charm to soften up a referee or two over the years.

His genuine love for the sport of basketball was matched only by his loyalty to the players he coached, the school he coached at, and the city he helped to mold.

Transferring and recruiting have never been more prominent than they are now. Regardless of where one stands on the issue of high school recruiting, it’s clear that it’s happening at programs than it isn’t. Still, while the temptations and offers were most certainly available to Jordan and SHS over the years, he never entered the fray when it came to … ahem … “acquiring” talent.

“Everyone wants to go play (at a school) together instead of playing against ‘the man’ nowadays,” Jordan told me in 2018 at a preseason media day where a primary storyline was Savannah High’s struggles in the years prior.

He was sitting on 496 career wins, but his program was objectively down in comparison to the likes of Johnson, Jenkins and others. In a way, Jordan is responsible directly or indirectly for Savannah’s three most recent boys GHSA state basketball titles. A former player and assistant under Jordan, Bakari Bryant guided Jenkins to the 2015 GHSA Class 3A state championship with a roster featuring six transfer players, including one starter from Jordan’s Blue Jacket team from two years prior.

“When I was growing up, if you were ‘the man,’ then we (wanted to play against) you. I didn’t want to play with you,” Jordan, still from 2018, said. “But you know the kids change and things will always change. Times change.”

When asked if he had any last message to his hundreds of former players, Jordan’s advice was as on-brand as could be.

“Work hard. Just work hard in this life and good things will come. Just like on the court, whichever man who wants it more gets it. So keep working hard and know that coach is still watching.”

NOTE

Keep checking back to ConnectSavannah.com for info on the Savannah High coaching search – or lack thereof – to find a replacement for Jordan. The GHSA basketball season (2023-24) starts with practices beginning October 23 and games tipping off on November 10. Jordan said “George Brown is my recommendation to take over. But that’s not official. Nothing official yet.”

He did, however, confirm that Brown, 28, and head girls basketball coach George Johnson will serve as Co-Athletic Directors for the remainder of this academic year before the school re-evaluates for 2024-25.

Published September 7, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

     

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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