SAN ANTONIO — After a long coaching and teaching career, Carl Klann started thinking about retirement during the Christmas holidays last year.
An avid fisherman, Klann had been a social studies teacher for seven years at Tejeda Academy in the Harlandale ISD after putting in 10 seasons as head football coach at McCollum High School.
“I still enjoyed teaching,” Klann, 59, said Thursday. “It was a change, a really neat change, after I resigned from coaching. I started getting restless over the past few years. I never told myself I didn’t want to coach again. That was always in the back of my mind. Then after I started enjoying the teaching, I said maybe not.
“But, like I said, I started feeling restless. I was kind of at a crossroads and thought about retiring and move off. But then I thought, what I am going to do then. Everybody was telling me, ‘Don’t do that. You need to keep working. You’re too young. About January, I got cold feet and I thought I’d like to coach.”
When McCollum head football coach Matt Uzzell resigned after two seasons, Klann agreed to become the Cowboys’ interim coach on March 6.
“I got to meet with my new coaches once before spring break,” Klann said, chuckling. “We haven’t been back to school since then. I didn’t even have a chance to talk to the kids.”
With the country still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, Klann had the “interim” tag removed from his job title this week when the Harlandale Board of Trustees named him McCollum head coach and athletic coordinator.
“My wife asked me, ‘Are you enjoying it?’” Klann said. “I said, ‘What do you think?’ I’m a pretty even-keeled person, but I’m pretty excited.”
With classes on campus shut down for the rest of the school year, Klann won’t have an opportunity to talk with his players in person until sometime this summer. Until then, the Cowboys will tap into technology and keep in contact through Zoom conferences and do film study via computer.
“Things are different with everybody that’s going on now, and the game is a little different than it was when I was coached,” Klann said. “But football is still about blocking and tackling.”
If coaching is like riding a bike, McCollum should be in good hands with Klann, the most successful football coach in the Cowboys’ history. Klann went 54-54 and led McCollum to the playoffs seven times in 10 seasons (2003-2012) during his first stint at the Harlandale ISD school.
Klann has more victories than any other coach in McCollum, and led the Cowboys to their last winning season (8-3) in 2011. McCollum has gone 13-58, including two 0-10 seasons, and made the playoffs only once in the past seven years. Uzzell, who left McCollum to become offensive coordinator at Lake Belton, went 1-19 in two seasons and was 0-10 last year.
A UTEP graduate, Klann has an 89-87-2 career record. He was 45-33-5 in seven seasons at El Paso Hanks and guided the Knights to the playoffs four times.
Klann graduated from East Central in 1978, and was a good friend of brothers Glenn and Larry Hill, who both became football coaches.
“The Hills and I used to hang out at (Harlandale) Memorial Stadium all the time,” Klann said. “We used to go to all the Charro games when they had semipro games there, so we were there all the time.”
Klann played football at UTEP for two seasons before injuries ended his career in 1980. He was a student coach and graduate assistant for three years, and earned his degree in 1983. Klann took his first full-time coaching job in 1984 at Samford University, staying at the Alabama school for three seasons before going to Hanks.
The Knights’ defensive coordinator for three seasons, Klann started his six-year tenure as Hanks head coach in 1990. He joined Glenn Hill’s staff at Roosevelt in 1997, serving as first assistant his first season and defensive coordinator for the last five before going to McCollum in 2003.