Apparently two years of fly-fishing and fall weekends off were enough for Mike Bailey.
The former Portland High head football coach will return to coaching next fall, joining Steve Stinson’s staff at South Portland as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator.
“The timing is good,’’ said Bailey, who resigned on Dec. 2, 2011, after 26 years as Portland’s head coach. “I think the two years off rejuvenated the batteries a bit and I never lost the itch (to coach) during the time off.’’
Bailey’s relationship with Stinson was also a factor. He had coached Stinson in high school, helped him get into the University of Maine, had him on his Bulldogs staff as a line coach for several years, then helped Stinson get his head coaching jobs at Greely and South Portland, where he has been for the last 10 years.
He’s also worked with Stinson the last two years in the background, watching game films and offering suggestions.
“He’s been a mentor, a great fan when I was at Maine, a coach, for a few years a competitor,’’ said Stinson. “We’ve always remained close.
“I knew he wasn’t done coaching. I knew he had a lot of juice left in him to help our kids.’’
Bailey, 59, wasn’t interested in any of the various head coaching positions that had opened up at other local high schools.
“For a fleeting moment I thought about a couple,’’ he said. “But I just didn’t want to get back into that year-round commitment, the weight room, the planning, the discipline. I don’t have that desire to do it year-round again.
“And I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of fly-fishing I did the last couple of years. I’ll still have time to enjoy that, too.’’
Bailey, who was an assistant coach at Portland for five years before becoming the Bulldogs’ head coach, had a career record of 137-101 with a state championship in 2002. He resigned days after the 100th Thanksgiving Day game with Deering, citing philosophical differences with Mike McCullum, the athletic director at the time.
While he enjoyed his free fall weekends by fly-fishing, Bailey never strayed far from the game. He maintained his duties with the Maine chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and often conferred with Stinson.
“I have actually been trying to get him the past couple of years, ever since he got done,’’ said Stinson. “That first year he needed time (away). Last year you could see he got the bug.’’
So when Stinson’s defensive coordinator left, he looked immediately to Bailey. He offered the position during a lunch the two had and Bailey accepted it a couple of weeks later.
“It just makes everything better for us,’’ said Stinson. “It’s a good statement for our program. His experience is invaluable. He’s learning a lot from what we do and I’m already learning a lot from him.’’
Bailey likened the situation to when he had the late Mike Landry on his staff as an assistant. “It was huge for me,’’ he said. “I learned so much as a head coach.’’
Bailey will put together the defensive game plan – “And then be able to implement it during the course of the week without a hundred distractions,’’ he said – but also will help on the offensive side, working with running backs and receivers.
“Whatever he wants me to do, I’ll do,’’ said Bailey. “I’m just here to make him better and South Portland football better.’’
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: