This is the last of a three part series of The Town Crier's interview with Bill Taylor.
In 21 years as a head coach, Buffalo Island Central's Bill Taylor has rung up an impressive overall record of 545-194. Taylor coached teams have won three state championships while appearing in 10 state tournaments. In other words, when Taylor gets his team to the big show, he has won it all 30 percent of the time. Seventy percent of the time, when Taylor's teams get to the state tournament, they have reached the final four.
Taylor has reached the regional tournament 20 times, claiming 11 district championships and 14 conference titles along the way. Taylor started his career at Parkin in 1985 and compiled a record of 46-13 in two years. Taylor moved on to Delta in 1987, and had even greater success going 81-20 and claiming the first of his three state championships. After three years at Delta, Taylor took the head coaching job at Caddo Hills and in seven years went 168-82. Taylor spent one year at Dewitt and suffered his only losing season, going 11-15. In 1998, Taylor took over at BIC and has led the Mustangs to back to back state titles and a 239-64 record.
Taylor talked about growing up in Bay, his family, and his accomplishments as a coach and athletic director.
Question: Talk about the big games, especially the ones like the BIC-Riverside rivalry. I look forward to the big games. It makes me sick to my stomach getting ready for those games, but that is why you are in this, for the competition. Big games and big crowds. There is none bigger than BIC and Riverside.
Q: Who has been the most underrated player you have coached? A player that does all the little things a coach loves but doesn't necessarily show up in the scorebook?
A: That is not just one player. It's Derek Rolland and Cord Rose the last two years. We couldn't have won these two state titles without them. Both years, they were the key. They would lock up on the other team's top scorers. They have been so underrated by outside people. They are almost like one person. We just counted on them so much. They might just score five, six, seven points, but they just do so many other things that help you win ball games.
Q: How do you prepare for next year, since you lose your entire starting lineup?
A. We are taking a little bit of time on this championship as a school We are going to enjoy this championship more than last year's. We were more relieved last year. This year we are going to enjoy it more. We lose five starters but I look forward to the opportunity and the challenge. I look forward to the challenge of putting a team on the floor that can defend the state title. Right now, though, I am trying to enjoy this title personally.
Q. How did you manage to get the Monette Athletic Complex built?
A. I don't take credit for that. The credit goes to all of our people. Both communities get along so well. We are all pulling in the same direction. I give the ultimate credit to Mr. Holland (Buffalo Island Central Superintendent George Ed Holland). He is such a good steward with the money in our school's district, that when he said we are asking for a milage increase everyone trusted him with it. I give him all the credit. A lot of the credit goes to our players. The timing was perfect, leadership was strong and the need was there, so it all came together. There was never a doubt a gym would be built and that there would be no hidden agenda. I am just proud to be a part of the group that led the push to build the new arena.
Q. Was there any bickering over where the gym would be located?
A. No, and I can say that emphatically. Everyone seemed to understand that of the two existing facilities, the one at Leachville was the better one. The gym at Monette was in a state of disrepair. The site at Monette was the logical choice.
Q. Did you have an idol growing up as a kid?
A. Yes. My idol was Brooks Robinson. My team still today is the Baltimore Orioles. My wife will tell you I have been loyal and true to them (Baltimore) all through the years. It's been hard sometimes, because they haven't won the World Series since 1983, but they were champions in 1969, 1970, and 1971. I have followed them ever since. Brooks Robinson was my hero and I knew when I was a little boy my son would be named Brooks. I was cursed being left handed, or I would have been a third baseman just like him. They are not a good team now, but I still love them and check on them everyday.
Q. Talk about your playing career at Bay.
A. That is ancient history. I graduated in 1980. I was an All-State player, a good player, but I was a horrible shooter. I was a good passer and ball handler, a lefty. I was a point guard in high school, and that helped me get ready for coaching. I pitched college ball at Arkansas State University. Not much to tell there.
Q. Who was your favorite basketball player growing up?
A. Jerry West. I wanted to wear number 44 but it was never available. He was my hero when I was growing up playing in the yard.
Q. Talk about your parents and brothers.
A. I had the greatest parents in the world. They passed away in 1992. They passed away five days apart, and I miss them everyday. My brothers are the best. I lost my oldest brother, Larry, in November. I just wish he could have seen this year's championship. I mean, I know he did, but I wish he had been here with me. My family has been the key to everything good that has happened to me - my wife, brothers, parents, and children. I have been blessed in so many ways, I can't even begin to tell you. There is not enough ink in your newspaper to say what my family has meant to me.
Q. Did you and your brothers play a lot of baseball and basketball when you were kids?
A. Yes. Larry was nine years older, so I don't really remember him that much. But Gaylon was the gym rat. We played all the time. You couldn't hardly go to sleep at night hearing him bounce that ball constantly. I was more of a game guy instead of a practice freak. Ronnie was two years younger than me and we were teammates. We had a great team my senior and his sophomore year. He had a great career. We played a million games in our yard. I would be surprised if there is grass growing on that old yard. We played so much there wasn't a blade of grass out there.
Q. There is a rumor that there is a big rivalry between you and your brother Gaylon.
A. No, not at all. People joke, and I think it would make for a good story if it were true, but there is really not a rivalry. I saw his teams play maybe five times, because mine were always playing at the same time. We've won five state championships between us, and we are proud of it. How amazing is that? But we aren't trying to beat each other. It's not like that between us at all.
Q. What do the Taylors enjoy doing as a family?
A. (Laughing) We have heard of vacations. Because of Brooks playing ball every summer, our vacations have been limited to watching him play ball. When I lived in Southwest Arkansas, we usually made a trip to Arlington, Texas as a family to watch the Rangers play. Vacations always seemed to revolve around baseball and basketball. Our vacations have always been sports driven. Living here in Monette I get to be around my brothers more. My youngest brother, Ronnie, will be going to Iraq in a few weeks and that concerns us. We are going to visit with him as much as we can the next few weeks.
Q. Talk about your wife, Lynda, and daughter, Rachel.
A. Rachel is such a sweet person and has her head on straight. I am very proud of her. She will graduate from ASU in May 2007. She wants to be a high school English teacher. She is a full time student who also works a full time job. She is very busy. I am just so proud of her. Lynda has the hardest job in the world, being a coach's wife, being pulled all the time between Brooks and me. I am glad she is there for Brooks the way a mom is supposed to be. We met at ASU in physical science class, which I dropped, but I continued to go just so I could be with her.(Lynda Taylor is the former Lynda Dickey of Rogers, Arkansas).
Q. If Bill Taylor could change one thing about himself, what would it be?
A. I would be more even tempered. I wish people understood that I am not as bad a guy as I sometimes appear to be. I like to think I am a better person than people perceive me as on the sidelines. I want to win so desperately. Winning means so much to me that sometimes I say and do things I regret. I wish I was more in control of my emotions.
Q. If you had one wish, what would it be?
A. In life, I wish my parents and my brother Larry were here. I miss them so much. In basketball, my wish would be for all the players I have coached in the last 21 years to know how much I appreciate them for what they have done for me in my career.
Q. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
A. My parents, no question about it. I was a momma's boy and still am, even though she has been gone 14 years. Both my parents were big influences, but especially my mom.
Q. How do you want people to remember Bill Taylor?
A. Whenever my time is over at BIC, I want to be remembered as a guy that built the program, not just as having two good years. We've been good in junior and senior high for eight years, and I am proud of our basketball program. I am so proud of Coach Kinard (BIC girls basketball Coach Mike Kinard). I think Coach Hurst (Mark) has got the softball program going, so I kind of have my chest thrown out as the athletic director. I am proud of our facilities and the improvements we have made. We are headed in the right direction. I want to be remembered as a guy who loved Buffalo Island Central and poured everything I had into this school. I might be here another 20 years-- I don't know. I appreciate all the support I have received from our fans in the past and look forward to keeping it going in the future.