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Cline: The rewards of retirement

He's still making lists, but now they include tuning up the car, not the quarterback. And he's still worried about keeping the grass green, but now it's his own lawn instead of the practice field.

Retirement is treating former South Gwinnett football coach T. McFerrin just fine. And not even the start of practice in pads on Monday could change that.

In fact, the legendary coach, winner of 301 career games, was happy to be watching South's afternoon practice on Monday rather than being in charge of it.

"Nobody who has ever coached football has ever hated two-a-days more than I did," McFerrin said. "I always worried about the heat and the injuries. I'd wake up at five o'clock or four o'clock and be going all day.

"It's such drudgery with all the planning. To be honest with you, I don't miss two-a-days at all. What I know I'll miss is Friday nights when the lights come on and the whistle blows."

That's still almost a month away, but the work toward that opening game started in earnest on Monday. And McFerrin was there, watching as an invited guest of new Comets' head coach John Small.

It's more than a little different being a spectator, but McFerrin plans to do a lot of that as local teams prepare for the season. He said several of his coaching buddies have invited him to attend practices and he's looking forward to it, a chance to stay involved with the game he loves.

But now football is a pleasant diversion, not an all-encompassing pursuit, and that agrees with the coach more than you might think. After 34 years of coaching, McFerrin doesn't mind the change.

He's spending more time with his wife Jane, traveling to Hawaii for a summer vacation and also visiting California. They've remodeled the basement at their home at the Providence Club in Monroe, and he's spent plenty of time working in the yard.

So don't worry, the coach who put the capital 'A' in Type A personality is staying busy. And he might be the only guy in history who doesn't need a honey-do list. A coach known for his precision and punctuality, he makes his own every morning.

"I have my list, just like in football," he said. "I have a successful day depending on how many things I have marked off my list.

"You don't know how you did this stuff when you were coaching, but I guess your wife did it. (Jane) reminds me of that."

And his list reminds McFerrin that even in retirement there is plenty to do, lots to accomplish. Another season is approaching and the retired coach is still busy, crossing off things one at a time.

Todd Cline can be reached via e-mail at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com . His column appears on Tuesdays.