Hardy Nickerson named O’Dowd football coach (UPDATED)

Former NFL and Cal star Hardy Nickerson was announced Thursday as the new head football coach at Bishop O’Dowd High.

Nickerson, whose son Hardy Jr. is a sophomore who plays for the Dragons, was O’Dowd’s linebackers coach last season and takes over for 25-year veteran Paul Perenon, whose contract was not renewed.

Nickerson spent 16 years in the NFL, most notably with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and spent time as a linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears. He also served stints as an assistant at Providence Day School and Charlotte Country Day School, both located in Charlotte, N.C.

“Any time I can teach football, that’s my passion,” Nickerson said. “I love teaching football. It’s all about the kids. For the kids, it’s about the opportunity to go beyond the x’s and o’s and teach some of the valuable lessons you learn in life.”

Nickerson’s immense football background was a big selling point for O’Dowd.

“We feel he brings an incredible leadership ability garnered from being a team captain at the highest level, as a coach and especially his work with disadvantaged youth through his charity organizations,” Dragons athletic director Mike Bowler said in a release. “His ability to communicate with everyone will make him an incredible ambassador for Bishop O’Dowd. His passion for football will be contagious throughout our community and will make for a great experience for all.”

Nickerson said it’s his goal for O’Dowd to be in position to compete for a state championship. Despite being competitive every year, the Dragons haven’t won a Hayward Area Athletic League title since 1999. They won a North Coast Section 2A East Bay crown in 2004.

“I think we have to go out and play football with a lot of effort and enthusiasm,” Nickerson said. “You do that, and guys are enjoying playing football, and good things happen. That’s the goal right off the bat, to create that type of excitement.”

Nickerson said it’s always been in his blood to be a coach.

“I’ve always had the coach’s mentality,” he said. “My wife and kids call me ‘linebacker man’ because I’m always pointing out something, always coaching.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve had a gift for teaching and helping kids. Not only helping kids but helping the guys I coached with the Bears. I always felt like I wanted to coach and felt like I’d be a coach at some point. I’m excited.”

Here’s a link to the press release.


Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.

  • exdragonslayer

    Is there anybody reading this blog that supports Nickerson having been a voting member of the bishop o’dowd interview committee, lobbying for the defensive coordinator job and then pushing for and being named head coach?

    If so, I would like to hear reasons why you support Nickerson’s abhorent behavior and actions?

  • exdragonslayer


  • bhsfan

    jayden if u have read my post u havent anwered anything, u havent stated any facts to ur accusations, if ur going to bash or have anything negative about a person/coach i think u should present facts, i sppuort coaches especially coaches that work hard and truely care about these kids, and i was curious who ur family member at b high and does he play football, can keep an eye on him for ya.

    exdragonslayer i dont reccomend the way it supposedly went down but i will give the man a chance to do right by the kids and do a good job up there.

  • bhsfan

    jayden since im missing it what is ur point

  • Dragon04

    Something that stuck into my mind when reading the Support Coach Perenon page’s wall was a quote: “Coach P seperated the boys who would become men from the boys who would always be boys.” And reading all of those stories really gives a sense of how much Perenon touched his players’ lives. To say that Perenon was just an arrogant prick simply does no justice to the man he truly is.


    Bbfan2, I just read your post. While it is nice that Phelps is helping your family I must say that my family has another point of view on Phelps and the current O’Dowd administration. I hope that your post was not intended to call into question the priority that Coach Perenon placed on academics while he coached at O’Dowd.

    My son played played for Coach P a few years ago. My son was not a superstar. He was just a regular high school kid playing football at O’Dowd. But when he went to practice every day Coach P saw to it that my son received the same intense coaching that the superstars got. When my son’s grades dipped, Coach P immediately intervened. Coach P saw to it that my son got extra help from his teachers and guided my son to achieve to the best of his abilities.Coach P showed my son that he was just as important as the best players and the expectations were no different for any of the players. Coach P was a deciding factor in my son’s growth into manhood. My son, his mother and our family will forever hold Coach P in the highest regard for being the BEST ROLE MODEL for my son and for all of the kids who have played for him over the years.

    Instead of writing on these blogs defending Phelps I am writing to question Phelps’ motivations and his role in the actions that resulted in Coach P being removed as football coach at O’Dowd. Most know that Phelps is the brother to Mike Phelps, ex basketball coach at O’Dowd. Most also know that Coach P and Mike Phelps did not see eye to eye regarding multiple sport athletes and other philosophical issues. It has been suggested to me that the decision to not retain Coach P was the result of a personal agenda on the part of the current O’Dowd president to get rid of Coach P. This point of view is not just mine and is very alive in the community discussion of the FB coaching change at O’Dowd.

    Further, I am questioning the hiring practice that resulted in Hardy Nickerson being named the new FB coach at O’Dowd. Phelps should be answering how he allowed a current player’s parent be part of the selection committee, interview candidates, give feedback on the interviews, make it known that he wanted to be the defensive coach for the new head coach, have prior knowledge that Coach P was not going to be rehired and then agree to be the new coach if they could not find a suitable candidate who would take him as the defensive coach?

    In reading this blog string it is clear that something is way wrong at O’Dowd. Many current parents of FB players have the same questions. Many members of the O’Dowd community are fed up with the school and Phelps and the athletic administration. Many of us know that enrollment for the next freshman class is significantly lower than it has been in past years. We also have heard that some of the best teachers are leaving the school and that other teachers are fearful of Phelps and his administration. I know that some long time veteran teachers have been pushed out in the pas t few years since Phelps arrived as the school’s president.

    Something is very wrong at O’Dowd. When will the school’s board and those who are responsible for Phelps step up and start asking questions? Many of us parents are asking each other “who’s next”?

    Hang in, Coach P. I know that thousands of alums, parents and (former) O’Dowd supporters are deeply distressed and are in your corner. My family’s support for O’Dowd has been terminated. I am sure others have done similar.

  • Curious jorge

    Did odowd offer coach bowers from San leandro the coaching job?? I know that they’re from rival schools but that man seems like he should be on the top of the list after dominating odowd for number of years and he has his players buying into the program. Not to hate on the new coach but he has some big shoes to fill. We shall see how things play out this coming season and see if the dragons regret replacing coach p.

  • JAyden

    I have not bashed anyone. I said I felt Sims was a great coach but I did not think he was ready for an assignment at a large school. Per a basketball parent at St Elizabeth, which he also coached coach simms basically went MIA after the season doing nothing to assist his seniors in the college recruiting process. He evedentally did the samething with his football team. He also sId he left. Rather large debt with the footbatea
    that will impact the coming season. I do not question his coaching ability.

  • eb fb fan,

    My post in no way was intended to speak on Coach P’s priorities regarding football or academics. I stated that I am not involved in football, so of course I could never speak on that. I really truly hate that your family isn’t having a good experience at Odowd now and who knows what will happen in the future for our family. Next year, I may feel the same way you do. I will say that while there are positive aspects of the athletic program my son belongs to, such as the emphasis on his education first, there are some negative ones as well, but the education my son is receiving far outweighs any of that. Because of the experience we are having as a direct result of Phelps, I felt compelled to make it clear that there is at least one parent who does not feel like so many others on this blog do. Also, even though my son is not involved with football, he does know Coach P and has nothing but positive things to say about him.

  • bhsfan

    curious jorge, i heard bowers did apply for the BOD job but i was wondering also if he even got an interview.

    jayden if sims is the new b high coach we will see either today or tomorrow lol, if he can handle a big school will remain to b seen when he is a big school coach, as far as him going mia not sure whats that about would have to hear from him maybe personal/family things he had to take care of, sick, applying for on campus school jobs, he is not on campus coach at st liz, i cant answer that, im glad u said a parent was giving u info bout sims not dion anything for the senoirs, only had one hoop player that was a senoir and qualify academically and can play at the next level like that or even wanted to, as far as football, i can personally know he was shopping his senoirs from talking to college coaches, parents always feel that they coaches not doing anything for they kids, even coach carter has had parents think that, parents have to realize that its more how good they think they kids is, u need good film grades good sat test scores gettin n combines helps alot too. like i said i will go to bat for this coaches that really care for these kids and are trying to b good role models for these young men.

    oh yeah and jayden whose the nephew i would mind keepin an eye on him for u. let u know when he not handling biz

  • Curious jorge

    Bhsfan, I think coach bowers is way more qualified than nickerson. Just because he played in the NFL or this and that doesn’t mean he can handle being in the hot spot.

  • Wannaknow

    Curious I totally agree. But there are also politics involved. When you get rid of a coach like Paul Perenon you gotta make a splash. The Guy was a freakin all pro. Can you see the spike in enrollment on the horizon??? My only question is that he stated coaching is in his blood. Why was this former all world player with coaching aspirations not retained by the Bears, picked up by an other NFL team, JC or college. Hell even Brian Cox coaches. I wish him luck but something smells foul at BOD.

  • jayden

    bhsfan,Interesting context for in which you write! Obviously he is the new coach, why else would he have told people he was? As far as what the parent said the coach did or did not do was this ” he did not finish the job he started” All these boys are going on to college, that is not a question. They are great kids. Had the pleasure of meeting one today while he was at my gym. he didn’t want to talk much but he did say this. How do you coach someone for 4 years and teach them about commitment and doing there job and then you walk out on yours. This kid is eveidentally set for next year but he said Sims did for him and one other and no one else. But Like I said before, we will see next season what he is made of. I wish him well. The Mustangs were fun to watch, lets see what he and his crew to with the Jackets.

  • bhsfan

    jayden not saying coach sims did or didnt do whatever it is that these players and/or parents wanted him to do, but i think all coach that read these blogs can agree, alot of players and parents think the kid is better than what they are, and sometimes its not ability, like i have already said its ur game film what u can do in the wieghtroom and are u consistant in there, ur grades and test scores, do u have the size to play ur position at the next level, for skill players whats ur 40 and do u have top end speed, where u good enough to get n some of the big combines and did u do well, if the kids has all these things lined up then its even easier for the kid to get recruited. so maybe kids that think they coach did do anything for them to get recruited they should b looking at themself first and c if they did everything they could do to help themselves get recruited. dont get me wrong their are coaches that dont help they kids and coach carter has been there, for a lot of kids like that. but dont see y sims wouldnt help his football players that was part of both his championships, he has gotten kids in college b4, he got an asian kid n to texas southern, big john john at portland st. bakari grant uc davis. one kid was wanted by cal but his grades wasnt good and test scores not high enough.

    like i said b4 i will go to bat for the coaches that really work hard and care bout they kids

  • fast and physical

    bHSFAN, you need to be in the weight room with your guys, just kidding, the parents need to take responsiblity for their kids throughout the process, when we left Mack and Berkeley, its the same problem, parents need to stay on their kids. Run Rickey Run!

  • bhsfan

    fast and physical ur funny, but im there everyday. if it dont rain we run today, come check us out, got isiah, rickey, delancy and naz on the relay.

    and yeah i wish parents and the players would take more responsibility on this process

    maybe i missed it but jimmy do u know who the next castlemont football coach will b, i hope its a good one

  • Jimmy Durkin

    Castlemont hasn’t hired yet. Word was they are doing final interviews today and Friday and should announce their hiring next Monday.

  • bhsfan

    thanks jimmy, will u b calling b high or going up there today regarding the new hire

  • bhsfan

    hope they hire a good coach at castlemont

  • Jimmy Durkin

    I am about to place a call to Fred as we speak.

  • bhsfan

    hahaha jimmy email me if u need to

  • Damn Castlemont moved pretty quick on its hire Barnes just barely left. Anybody know who the front runners for that job are?

  • KIss the Ring

    turner just resigned from yv according to the blogs

    is the oc at bhs or odowd
    or is he the new castlemont coach?

  • Left YV for Castlemont?? I don’t know if that dude is ready for that environment.

  • Jimmy Durkin

    Ben Enos has confirmed Turner’s resignation. I’m sure he’ll have something posted here shortly, but as of right now he does not have another coaching job in place.

  • bhsfan

    hey jimmy any word on castlemont

  • I hear that Ruseel White will be the new Castlemont Head Coach. He was on the staff in 08.

  • I hear that Russell White will be the new Castlemont Head Coach. He was on the staff in 08.

  • Jimmy Durkin

    Castlemont is expected to name its coach on Monday. I have heard White’s name mentioned as a potential top candidate. We’ll find out soon.

  • junior

    Is that Russell White the ex-Cal RB?

  • Jimmy Durkin

    Yes it is.

  • KillerD

    Turner at YV got burned by the administration. He should have gotten the job but fishiness happened.

    Weird awful off season for some outstanding head coaches either let go, fired, or not re-hired or awarded jobs.

    Hopefully this will all get better and no more top head coaches will be pushed out for unproven commodities on a whim by others.

  • KillerD

    It has been silence about former Bishop Odowd head coach Perenon.

    Has anybody heard anything about him?

    Where is he going to coach in 2010. Is he about to pop up somewhere as a head coach – in a surprise move?