Longtime football coach around the state and in Fayette County, Clint Burton, here with his wife Linda, passed away this week
Longtime football coach around the state and in Fayette County, Clint Burton passed away Monday after a battle with cancer, leaving behind a tremendous legacy.
He certainly won't be forgotten by the countless people he came across during his career. A number of his former players, colleagues, and friends submitted their thoughts and memories on what Coach Burton meant to them. He was, among many things, a great coach, leader, friend, and family member.
The athletic community of Fayette County and the state of Georgia lost one of our finest ambassadors with the passing of Clint Burton. He made contributions to all facets of high school sports throughout his playing career and his coaching career. Not only was he a great coach, he was a fine example of what the coaching profession is really all about. His mentorship to young athletes and young coaches was, is and will continue to be far-reaching. He will be missed tremendously by all of us.
Gary Phillips, Executive Director
Georgia High School Association
I was fortunate to have known Clint for over 40 years. Clint loved coaching and was such a positive influence on the lives of the students that he taught and coached, and on the people who knew him. He was a wonderful man and dear friend who will truly be missed by all.
As I lay in bed tonight, I think back to the things I learned from Coach Clint Burton. The character and class he carried himself with was unmistakable. His passion for building up young men was extremely admirable. I went and sat with him for about an hour not too long ago and he said to me, "Nate, it's all about the boys. We strive to win the games, but what it's all about is just loving those boys and helping them reach their full potential. Sometimes other teams will simply have more talent than you, so study the game. Know ways to keep defenses guessing. Put your team with less talent in the best possible position to win. I'm not saying it's easy, but it can be done. You can do it, and I believe in you." I thanked him, and what he said next I will remember forever. I was about to head out and he called me back and said, "Hey Nate, I love you...I am so proud of you and want ya to know I love you. I'm fighting hard Nate, but I'm so tired. Thanks for your prayers. Hey...I love ya Nate, don't forget that." He held out his hand and I just wrapped my arms around him. I'm gonna miss being able to call him up and talk to him. He was an incredible man. Please keep Linda Burton and Corey Burton in your prayers. Love ya Coach...I know you're in a much better place, and can't wait for you to see me coach for the first time this year from the best seat in the house. This season is dedicated to you Coach, any extra help you can send down would be very much appreciated!
My friend Clint Burton. When Clint was at North Clayton he was always causing us great concern with his passing game. He had this series he called the dash series. We were convinced that the receivers and the quarterback were working together pushing the receivers downfield three yards past the first down stick then breaking to the outside and having the ball delivered by the quarterback right to the stick. This was an impossible route to defend. Clint would also have the fullback positioned just outside of the defensive end and with the help of the offensive tackle we were again convinced that they would hold the defensive end allowing the quarterback to roll out to that side of the formation and stand out there in space and deliver the ball. They were so convincing that we got to the point we were telling our cornerbacks to not worry about getting be deep just get to the stick first and try to break on the ball. Later on when Clint joined our staff at Lovejoy we were having a discussion about his great knowledge of football and the many things that he was preparing to offer to the Wildcats to make us a better team. When we got to the discussion about the Dash Series, Clint just laughed when we told him about our attempts to defend the play by having the cornerbacks try and beat the receivers to the spot and break on the ball. Clint leaned back in his chair and commented to the group that he wish he had of known that, then he introduced us to 95 long!!!! This was the comeback with a pump and go!!! Clint was not only a great man, a great coach, a great teacher, he was a great friend!!! Clint Burton, I will miss you buddy!
Former Lovejoy High School
In the Spring of 1984 I was 23 years old about to graduate from UGA and doing my student teaching at North Clayton. It was at this time that I met Coach Burton and his wife Linda. Coach Burton gave me a shot right out of college to coach big-time high school football. I could write a lot about what he taught me on the football field and all he did for student- athletes over the years, but that's just a small part of what I will remember. It is what Clint and Linda have meant to me and my family over the last 30 years I'll remember most. Clint and Linda had a way of making you feel special and important. Our families were always included in our football lives. The practices, games, cookouts and after-game ritual of going to the Burton's always included family. They were there at my wedding, the birth of my kids, high school graduations, college graduations, and at our oldest son's wedding. Coach Burton and Linda always made it a point to be there for us and our special moments. I will miss my friend tremendously. I love Clint Burton. He made all our lives better.
Clint and I first met in 1969 when he came to North Clayton High School fresh out of Florida State University where he played defensive back. I remember him telling me that he played in the Peach Bowl his senior year, but didn’t remember much about it because he was knocked out on the opening kick-off. He came to North Clayton to coach for Jim Clepper, his former high school football coach. Clint and I were the defensive coaches and I have many fond memories of those times both on and off the field.
In 1977, I left North Clayton to become the head football coach at Riverdale High School; Clint eventually became the head coach at North Clayton and later Fayette County. From then on, we coached against each other every year and maintained great respect for each other – win or lose.
Clint was not only a great coach, he was a wonderful person. He could always find humor in any situation and will be remembered for his smile and disposition. When I had unexpected heart by-pass surgery, my wife recalls looking up while sitting in the waiting room and seeing Clint walk in. He stayed with her all day until I had been assigned to a room. My wife and I will never forget this kindness, but that was just Clint.
I will forever miss my good friend!
I met Clint in the fall of 1961. Even as a junior varsity player I knew from the beginning Clint was a winner. During his high school career I had the honor of taping the worst pair of ankles I have ever seen on an athlete. I kid him about it all the time. He punted for us. Can you imagine punting bare footed with those skinny ankles? It did not matter, Clint was a winner.
During one of his high school games, Clint came to me late in the game and asked me what to run. We were down 6 to 0 with 1:35 left on the clock. We were 85 yards away from a touchdown. I told him to run this one short pass play only. He did. Six or eight plays later he called time with three seconds left on the one yard line. He came to me and asked what play we should run from the one. I told him, “Don’t ask me. What got you down here?” Yes, Clint was a winner. He went back on the field, threw the same short pass, we win 7 to 6 with no time left on the clock.
I’ll never forget Clint's last high school game. He threw the ball that night 31 times and completed 29 of those passes. Yes, Clint was a winner.
During his high school career I carried Clint and some of his teammates on camping trips back in the mountains of Tennessee. Here he learned to water ski, it was not pretty, but he got the job done. You should have seen him stalking a frog on one of our frog hunting trips. His teammates never laughed so hard. But he got the frog. During one of those camping trips, Clint decides he wants to shoot this water creature with this big army colt 45. I told him how to hold the gun out and grip the pistol with both hands and shoot when he was ready. After several seconds he had not fired. I look back to see why he had not fired. To get a better sight, he had pulled the pistol from arms length back to within four inches of his nose. Before I could yell “no,” Cling pulled the trigger. Well, for those of you who know anything about a colt 45, the slide came back of course, It started at the tip of his nose and did not stop peeling skin until it reached the bridge of his nose. Oh yes, there was meat and blood, but you should have seen those “big ole tears” rolling down his cheeks. Yes, he got the varmint.
After college, Clint came home and coached with me for 11 years. I am most proud to be able to say I have never seen anyone more dedicated to his career. I have never seen anyone as loyal toward his colleagues. Yes, I know Clint Burton. I thought of him as a son. He was a winner and I will never forget what he has meant to me and those kids he influenced. God Speed Clint.
Coach Jim Clepper
Before she was my wonderful wife of almost 20 years now, Laura Huffman was one of my classmates at FCHS. Laura was a cheerleader and I played football. During our senior year, the cheerleaders prepared a scrapbook that chronicled our 1990 football season. Laura happened to prepare my scrapbook, which we still have at the house.
Three months ago I received a call from my former position coach and good friend, Jon Gloer. Coach Gloer told me that Coach Burton was very sick, which prompted me to pull out the scrapbook and do a little reminiscing.
The 1990 football season was Coach Burton’s second season at FCHS. In 1989, during Coach Burton’s first season at FCHS, we had well exceeded expectations and went 6-4, which was FCHS’s first winning football season for several years. Back in those days, the local newspapers covered Tigers football extensively and the relevant articles were included in the scrapbook.
I found a pre-season article before the 1990 season where I was quoted as saying that “Coach Burton has totally changed the outlook of the team.” It was true. During my freshman and sophomore seasons, prior to Coach Burton’s arrival, we went a combined 6-14 with arguably more talented teams. We had good players and good coaches, but something was missing.
Coach Burton and his staff showed up and they exuded confidence. Coach Burton had been very successful at North Clayton and he had our attention from day one. We started to believe that we could win. Not only was Coach a terrific leader, he was also a cutting edge football tactician with a sophisticated passing attack that was ahead of its time (by the way, with me playing on the defensive side of the ball, I would be remiss if I did not mention our excellent defensive coaches including Defensive Coordinator Vic Barrick, Coach Jim Bailey, and Coach Gloer).
Our 1990 football season ended up being a magical season with us winning the Region 4-AAAA Division I football championship, which had not been done by a Tiger football team since the early 80’s. I am very proud of what we accomplished and it would have never happened without Coach Burton.
And it was more than just football. Hard work, trusting in your teammates, perseverance… life lessons that I have carried with me over the past 24 years. It was a time in my life that I will never forget and we were all blessed to have Coach Burton show up to FCHS back in 1989. The man truly had a positive impact on my life and many others. What more can you ask in a life well lived?.
Thank you Coach Burton for everything and may you please rest in peace.
The news of Clint's passing saddens me deeply. It saddens me because I lost a friend and mentor. Clint Burton encouraged me to go to college and become a coach. He was instrumental in helping me land my first coaching job. My first year as a coach he became my model of the way to do things in the coaching profession. There will be a void in my life that only he can fill. His positive attitude, his quick humor, and his encouragement will be missed. I never thought of living life without Clint. He was always there; a phone call away. I will miss walking the fairways with him and talking football on Saturday mornings.
Rest in peace CB.
What Coach Burton meant to me:
I am sure that many of Burton’s former players could tell similar stories of how he impacted their lives. Of course that just validates Coach Burton’s legacy. I had the pleasure of playing for Burton at Fayette County High School during the early 90’s, which marked the beginning of his tenure with the Tigers. Along with my teammates I quickly learned that he demanded a strong work ethic of each of his players. The Clinton era ushered in grueling three-a-day summer practices and running “tours” on the steps of Tiger Stadium to help ensure we limited our number of missed practices. We may not have had the greatest talent in the region, but under his guidance we worked harder than anyone. During my time as a player under Burton, I learned the true value of teamwork and how to remain committed when the going gets tough. As a parent, a spouse, and a professional, I continue to employ these values on a daily basis. Aside from the ability to shape young men, many would agree that Coach Burton had that intangible “something” that inspired you to continue to fight and work even harder to avoid disappointing him. Most would agree that this the mark of a great leader. Of course he was more than a coach; he was just a great guy. Since my time as a player I had several opportunities to share some brief moments with Coach Burton, but none more cherished than a moment during the recent Battle for Burton Golf Tournament. On that day I had a chance to thank him for being such a positive influence in my life. He will be greatly missed!
In Loving Memory of Coach Clint Burton:
As I remember the impact Coach Burton made in my life, it causes me to reflect on my time with him. Although his legacy impacts entire communities as well as people across the globe, I can only think about how he impacted my life. In fact I think of this quite often, and I do so today with a huge thanks and love in my heart.
After graduating from FCHS in 1992, I never intended on becoming a teacher, let alone a football coach, but because of Coach Burton’s guidance and affirmation in me it was an easy step to take. I was not the best football player Coach Burton had ever been around. In fact, I was pretty awful. But, after my very last practice with him he thanked me for the years of hard work for the “TEAM” that I had put in. At that moment, that meant more to me than ever starting a game.
After graduating from the University of Georgia with my teaching degree, I went back to the old field house of FCHS. I walked in after years of not seeing Coach Burton and asked him one simple question, “Do you think I would make a good coach?” Coach Burton made that call he made for many others on my behalf. He always answered the phone when coaches called for a reference and he always made me sound better than I actually was. I will forever love him for that.
I have coached football for over ten years on two continents and have taught in the classroom and on the field for over 16 years now. I have coached future and current NFL players with his blessings - players and students that I will never forget. Coach Burton’s life should never be measured by what he did on the field or at practice. It should always be measured in the reach he had through the young men he coached, and now the men they coach and teach, and the lives they change. If you add all that up and are able to look at the true impact of this man, you would arrive at an infinite number that is immeasurable. It’s simply amazing and an honor to continue to be a part of. Thank you, Coach Burton.
Growing older in this world does certainly point out to each of us that we are all mortal creatures and sooner or later we will be faced with it's inevitability. As my time gets ever closer, one hopes that we could leave positive imprints on those that come to know you.
Clint Burton and I become acquaintances/ friends and more when I was very youthful and impressionable. It became evident quick that this guy had the character traits I had been raised with. Clint fused those traits in such a way as to instill, expect, reinforce and display these traits all in his everyday life. Whether teaching, coaching or just being a friend. I came to expect these high character traits anytime I was around Clint.
His coaching philosophy evolved around three core values, each of which required other positive traits to be complete. With this, Clint worked his magic as a coach by preparing first his staff, followed then his team. He took great pride in taking individuals of less talent and molding them into a team that was much greater than the sum of the parts. The coaches and the team believed in themselves and in each other leading to competitions (individually and team) and outcomes that surprised even the coaches at times. Teamwork, Toughness and Total understanding were those core values and the supporting values molded each of us as we became a family of unified guys striving for the next victory.
Not knowing even if Clint was aware, but these values percolated through each player, coach and colleague he came in contact with, such that our lives followed much the same character building philosophy as his coaching. Much of my personal success I attribute to these core values Clint lived by daily.
When players, coaches and friends of Clint have the character traits that makes them a person he admired, he had a "heart felt" and descriptive way of illustrating his admiration for them. Clint would say " I would get into a fox hole with them."
Well Clint , as I reflect upon our relationship and the family ties we have developed, I must make a fitting tribute to you My old friend. "I would certainly get into a fox hole with you and go to war!!" Your friendship, patience, and values will always be an influence in my life.
Coach Richard Penland
I had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Clint on three levels: I played for him, I coached against him, and I had him as a friend. In the early 70’s when Clint was a young coach at North Clayton High School, he and Thurston Taylor were graduates of Florida State and were best buddies. I remember our team referring to them as “ Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Clint always had a quick wit and a sense of humor that, combined with his knowledge of football, attracted our football players to bond with him. I would call Clint a definite “Players Coach” in the truest sense. This was very evident with the turnout at the Battle for Burton benefit golf tournament. After Clint became the Head Coach at North Clayton and later at Fayette County, he became known as the coach who brought throwing the ball to the south side of Atlanta. As a Coach, we referred to him as the Steve Spurrier of High School as he really changed the way people played defense at that time. Off of our 1974 graduating class, we had three players go on to coach in high school and try to pass along the things that Clint passed on to us. Clint influenced so many people in a positive way during his life. CB will be missed, but never forgotten!
Coach Glenn Griffin
During the 1960’s, my dad was the head coach football at Florida State University. Clint Burton was a part of his finest recruiting class and helped the Seminoles play in three straight bowl games. In that era, bowl games were few and far between, so Clint’s Seminoles were one of only a handful of teams in the country that could make that claim. At the end of one of those football seasons, my younger brother and I rode the team bus back to Tallahassee after a big win. Although exhausted, Coach Burton entertained us for the entire ride home and instantly became one of our heroes for life. What we didn’t know is that he would also become a hero to so many more over his lifetime. What a life well lived! He and his family are in our prayers.
Athletic Director, Shorter University
My memories of Clint are so awesome and only seem like they happened last week, even though it has been 17 years since I worked for him. He gave a chance to a young coach who probably was not really ready to be a varsity football coach at the state's highest classification. But he showed confidence and patience and let me develop as a coach. Since he was an old defensive back he mentored me to coach the DB's in my own style while teaching me what he knew. I will always be grateful for that.
Clint was ahead of his time in the passing game . He found a way to make the system fit the players, not the other way around. Clint made it a family atmosphere within the staff and was quick to include all the coaches family members. He knew the importance of that. Clint is still the state champion in Alabama for eating Krystal's, his record...34 in one sitting. What a great coach, husband, father and most of all friend. I will miss him
Coach Keith Manus
In the 1960s, the Bill Peterson Era, Florida State University Football was making its debut on the national scene. Recruiting in Georgia was important to growing the football program. During the 60’s, Georgia recruits started making a mark at FSU with names like Ed Pritchett (Decatur Avondale), Winfred Bailey (Atlanta O’Keefe), Buddy Blankenship (Atlanta O’Keefe), Bob Mangum (Atlanta St Pius), Bill “Red” Dawson (Valdosta), Doug Messer (LaGrange), Wayne McDuffie (Hawkinsville), Billy Cox (Atlanta Grady), Thurston Taylor (College Park N. Clayton), and Clint Burton (Atlanta Roosevelt). These, among others, contributed to growth of the Seminole football program. This is where I first met Clint. We were teammates and went through the struggles of proving ourselves and making the team. The offseason program was grinding, demanding, and even demeaning, but essential. It developed character and a comradery which we continued to maintain years later. Clint Burton was a part of this growing program. Clint never complained, maintained a positive attitude, and always had that famous SMILE on his face even during the offseason when we literally crawled out of the agility matt drill room or during the season when we finished one of the hot humid three-a-day practices in the heat of Tallahassee, Florida. Clint’s roommate and fellow defensive back at FSU, Chuck Eason, stated Clint always had a jovial spirit and kept things lively in the dorm even when things were tough. Clint will be missed but his spirit will always be with us.
Larry Green (Teammate)
FSU 63 - 68
Coach Burton played a very important role in my coaching career and gave me my first job at FCHS in 1994. He and Linda treated me and my family like we had been there forever. We had many great times with coach from Fridays after games to coaching clinics and a lot of Golf.
Coach Burton will be remembered by me as a great coach, but more importantly a great person and mentor.
The year 1970-71 I was a Freshman at NCHS and my basketball coach through my senior year was the man who helped mold my life. His mannerisms, positive attitude, caring for young people, his humor, his loving spirit , his knowledge of all games (especially Football) made him the person I wanted to be like. I retired teaching Physical Ed. and coaching after 30 years... Yes, Coach Burton was my coach, my example, my friend. He not only influenced my life, he influenced everyone he met.
Clint Burton became my boss in 1989 because he became the head football coach at Fayette Co. High. He then became my co-worker because we had the same goals for our teams and the young people with whom we worked. He became a mentor because he saw in me what I could become. He became a confidant because we could discuss our ideas and differences. He became an inspiration because I could see how he influenced those around him. But most of all he became my friend because he cared. He cared enough to listen and accept me and my ideas as worthwhile. We may not have always agreed, but respect was always present. He did not accept less than your best, but his quickest criticism was on himself. Regardless of what kind of season we were having, we could always depend on Clint to lead us back into battle the next week. The fact that we followed him says it all about this man. I feel honored to have coached with Clint Burton, to have spent my time with him, and to have him be a part of my family’s life. He will always be present in our memories, our stories (if you know coaches, you know how we like to tell stories), and our lives. To my friend: throw deep, throw often—may the “80’s” always be open. I’ll make sure the linemen give you plenty of time.
In my years as an educator and coach of young men, I have learned many life lessons from many people, but the one man that taught me the most about making a difference in the lives of the young men I coached was Clint Burton. He taught me to not measure my success in wins and losses on the field, but to look at my wins and losses as the successes I had in helping to develop young men to have strong character. His work ethic and his commitment helped me become the man I am today. He was a gentle giant who had a way of bringing out the best of all who we're lucky enough to know him. I am very sad that he is gone, but so thankful that I was able to have had him in my life while he lived.
I have known Clint since 1960, and considered him a friend for all those years. We went to Roosevelt High School where Clint and I became friends as we both played sports. Clint was a great athlete, and excelled in which ever sport was in season. I think we became close friends during fall practice in football in 1961. I was a senior and he was a freshman, and we were running "eye opener" drills. I was running the football and Clint stepped into the hole and he and I went helmet to helmet. We both had our bells rung. After we finally got our heads straight, we patted each other on the back, and Clint got a lot of respect from all of the varsity players. Great coach, innovative, hard worker, and a great guy to be around. He will be sorely missed.
“Teamwork, toughness, and total understanding.” With these words Clint Burton began the first football staff meeting of each preseason for the Fayette County Tigers. I have been an educator for 28 years, and worked for Coach Burton for nine of those years. He was absolutely the most important mentor of my professional career, and I use things I learned from him all the time in my current position as a school administrator. He was the most organized and attentive to detail leader I have ever been around. I learned how to “meet to plan a meeting” from Clint Burton. I also learned that pizza and wings go a long way towards breeding loyalty on a football staff working long hours.
I am very thankful that someone in football coaching networks gave me Clint Burton’s name in 1989 and told me he was looking for football coaches when I was a young and eager coach who wanted a varsity opportunity in order to learn and grow. He gave us responsibilities and expected us to figure out how to best teach and drill it for our groups. Working on his staff, especially as a running backs coach, provided a unique chance to be part of something very special in the early 1990s. Clint was doing things offensively that few other coaches dared to do then. We signaled formations, motions, shifts, and plays in, sometimes to the entire team in a no huddle concept, and ran all our plays from a multitude of sets and personnel groups. The extensive use of screens, draws, and passes to backs and tight ends was exactly what we saw when we watched the 49ers and Joe Montana every week. We were running speed sweeps and option pitches to a wingback years before Oregon and Auburn made the spread no-huddle all the rage. Although we actually were very balanced in run versus pass ratio, the perception among opposing coaches was that we were throwing it all over the place. I loved the creativity and innovation involved in our system, and I especially looked forward to getting to the office on Sundays to see what concepts and plays Clint was going to install the next week. It was usually based on some game he had seen on ESPN from the west coast late on Saturday night, from the teams in college that were wide open and putting up huge offensive stats. During those long Sundays we watched as Clint diagrammed at least fifteen ways to block “Power O.” Another reason I and many other coaches who worked for Clint were so loyal to him was the fact that he welcomed ideas and suggestions by assistants, and would often use them in our game plans. He always gave the assistants credit for these ideas when introducing them to the team, and we all felt invested because of it.
The system we ran at Fayette allowed us to compete in a very difficult region with athletes that were rarely college prospects. They were smart, dependable, and worked hard and we had success against powers like Griffin, always playing them close and beating them several times. Those of us who coached with Clint have many fond memories and stories of private times in games, meetings, on the road to clinics, Friday nights at his house with our families, and moments of personal remembrance. I will always remember how respectful and dignified he was around women and other teachers at school. He was also one of the wittiest and funniest people I ever met, and would often make jokes about politics, current events, or pop culture that stand-up comics would be proud of. I will always be in debt to Clint and Linda for their care and love, and I am honored that I had the opportunity to teach and coach his son Corey during his final seasons at Fayette.
My dad was a high school football coach, and I got to witness every day the ways coaches can influence young men in a positive way. Coach Burton led young men in the same ways - with character, integrity, dignity, loyalty, and passion. I became a teacher and coach to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people as well. I am grateful that I had the chance to work with, learn from, and know Clint Burton as a mentor and friend. Thousands of young men and coaches whose lives he impacted have become better people as a result of having known him.
Coach on Clint Burton’s FCHS staff for nine years