Beginning his 12th season as head coach, Buddy Stephens is the architect behind East Mississippi Community College’s decade-plus of championship football. Since his arrival on the Scooba campus in December 2007, Stephens has completely transformed EMCC’s football program into a perennial powerhouse currently unrivaled in the NJCAA gridiron ranks.
Having taken over a program that hadn’t managed a winning football season during the decade prior to his arrival and had only made one previous state playoff appearance in school history, Stephens has won nearly 90 percent of his games as EMCC’s head football coach, including five NJCAA national championships, seven MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 titles, nine MACJC North Division crowns and seven postseason bowl game victories. Presently ranking as the NJCAA’s all-time leader in career winning percentage for coaches with 100 or more career games coached, Stephens enters the 2019 campaign tied for sixth place among the NJCAA’s winningest head football coaches.
Dating back to the 2008 season, Stephens owns an 11-year head coaching overall record of 110-13 (.894) at East Mississippi, including composite marks of 62-4 (.939) in regular-season division play and 14-3 (.824) in MACJC playoff contests. Including separate winning streaks of 25, 20 and 17 consecutive games (twice), the Lions are 86-5 (.945) collectively with six double-digit win seasons dating back to the start of the 2011 campaign. Additionally, Stephens’ EMCC teams are undefeated in championship contests with an unblemished 5-0 record in NJCAA national championship games and a perfect 7-0 mark in MACJC state title tilts.
With their five national championships having come in the last eight years, Stephens’ EMCC Lions have become just the second NJCAA member school to claim back-to-back national football titles twice (2013-14 & 2017-18). East Mississippi currently trails only Butler (Kan.) and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for most national football championships (six apiece) in NJCAA history.
EMCC’s unprecedented run of consistent gridiron success has also secured seven MACJC state titles over the last 10 seasons. The three-time reigning state champion Lions are bidding to become the first MACJC program to capture four consecutive state football championships since Pearl River (2003-06) when Stephens served as the Wildcats’ offensive line coach prior to being hired at EMCC.
For his outstanding coaching efforts throughout his EMCC career, Stephens is a three-time NJCAA Football Coach of the Year recipient along with having received national honors twice by the American Community College Football Coaches Association and the American Football Monthly magazine. The seven-time Region 23 Coach of the Year also 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 nearly 25 EMCC football players annually move on to compete at the four-year level, Stephens has coached a total of 32 NJCAA All-Americans during his tenure, including eight All-America quarterbacks. In addition, 50 former EMCC players competed at the university level during last year’s college football season. On the professional level, the EMCC Lions have had six players selected in the NFL Draft under his guidance, while a total of ??? former Stephens players were on NFL rosters this past offseason.
Stephens arrived at East Mississippi 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 28‐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.