Throughout the past decade, Buddy Stephens has completely changed the expectation levels of the football program at East Mississippi Community College. EMCC’s 10th-year head football coach has made winning games and claiming championships the new norm on the Scooba campus after taking command of a program that hadn’t managed a winning football season the previous decade and with only one prior state playoff appearance in school history prior to his arrival.
Owning a nine-year overall coaching record of 87-12 (.879) at East Mississippi, including a composite 51-3 (.944) mark in MACJC North Division play, Stephens enters the 2017 campaign set to challenge the NJCAA’s all-time standard for highest career winning percentage among football coaches with a minimum of 100 career games coached that is currently held by former Butler coach Troy Morrell (154-22 for .875 win% from 2000-14). Stephens’ first win of the 2017 season will also break Bob “Bull” Sullivan’s current all-time school record for most career coaching wins (87-71-4 from 1950-52 & 1956-68). Stephens’ impressive numbers have produced an unprecedented three national championships over the past six seasons, along with generating five MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 championships, eight regular-season division titles and five NJCAA postseason bowl wins dating back to the 2008 season.
With EMCC’s three national titles coming during a four-year span (2011, 2013 & 2014), Stephens became the first football coach in the history of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) to secure three NJCAA championships. Including separate winning streaks of 25 and 20 consecutive games, the Lions are 63-4 collectively with four double-digit win seasons dating back to the start of the 2011 campaign.
For his outstanding coaching efforts throughout his career at East Mississippi Community College, Stephens is a two-time recipient of the coveted American Community College Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year honor along with being named the 2014 Spalding NJCAA Football Coach of the Year. The five-time NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year honoree is also a two-time recipient of the Junior College National Coach of the Year as awarded by American Football Monthly magazine. In addition, Stephens received the George Sekul Award from the All-American Football Foundation in 2011.
Stephens’ coaching success at East Mississippi goes hand in hand with the individual accomplishments that his players continue to achieve beyond the Scooba campus. While an average of 20-plus EMCC football players annually move on to compete at the university level, Stephens has coached a total of 23 NJCAA All-America players during his tenure, including seven All-America quarterbacks. The Lions have also had five players selected in the NFL Draft under his guidance, including the Ole Miss tandem of defensive lineman D.J. Jones and quarterback Chad Kelly this past year.
Likewise among the collegiate coaching ranks, as many as a dozen former EMCC assistant coaches under Stephens’ guidance are currently on FBS coaching staffs throughout the country, including three in the SEC and two in the Big Ten.
Stephens arrived on the Scooba campus in December 2007 after spending the previous seven seasons as an assistant coach at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss. During Stephens’ stint at PRCC, the Wildcats posted a composite record of 60‐12 (.833), including an NJCAA championship in 2004 and four consecutive MACJC state titles (2003-06).
Before his community college coaching career began in 2001, Stephens spent eight years at the high school level in Alabama and Louisiana.
Following an initial stop at Pearl River CC as a two‐year offensive lineman, Stephens continued his playing career at Delta State University. Upon earning his bachelor’s degree in education, he began his 26‐year coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. Stephens received his first taste of full‐time coaching experience at Louisiana-Monroe, where he completed his master’s degree in 1992.
A native of Huntsville, Ala., Stephens is married to the former Robyn Lynn Douglas of Bogalusa, La. They have three daughters – Lauren, Julianna, and Rebekah.