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.

  • EBfootball

    So he sabotages the hiring process demanding that he be the DC so no qualified head coach would want the job? Dirty pool.

  • ManDown

    I guess all rumors were true! Wow! I guess he got his wish

  • Pulls a mutiny on Perenon then takes his job. Did he want the job or it came down to no good coach wanted him as the D Coordinator so the committee decided he should get the job? Good luck man Perenon is a tough act to follow & had better situation being on-campus.

  • Wow! Talk about back door! Well at least that’s over good luck Hardy!

  • Did coach Sims get the Berkeley job?

  • wow the negative comments started sooner than i thought. just wish the man and program good luck. there have been alot of coaching changes at alot of high schools of late, so I don’t understand why there is so much negativity. I would give the guy a chance before I would accuse him of mutiny and sabatoge.

  • ManDown

    Get lost Bbfan2!

  • Y do I need to get lost ManDown?

  • KillerD

    For many weeks, a few others on this board and I had patiently drawn out EXACTLY what had been transpiring at Bishop O’dowd regarding the head football coaching search, the panel involved, the team parent/coach in question and now THIS has ALL come true.

    Sad, but look at it from the new Dragons head coach point of view:

    1. More than 60 Applicants had applied for the job, including numerous successul (PROVEN) head coaches with impressive resumes, such as Longero, Hamilton, Kravitz and others. Along with highly qualified collegiate assistants

    2. In several confirmed cases, the New Dragons head coach (Who was an active sitting member of the Interview Selection Panel interviewing potential head coaches) let it be known that HE wanted to be their new Defensive Coordinator

    3. Obviously, the ONLY coach that would be attractive enough to potentially hire, would be a friend, peer or existing head coach that WAD NOT going to bring his own Defensive Coordinator with him to O’dowd.

    4. The new Dragons head coach now, by NOT letting it be known that he/himself wanted to be the new head coach for O’dowd BEFORE the interview process started, managed to position Himself as the ONLY “football guy” on the interview panel.

    5. Inserting himself into this situation so absurdly accomplished many things at once:

    a. He saw every coach deemed worthy of the job up close and personal, and was able to Extract parts of those head coaches answers and blend them into his own profile AFTER each candidate had unknowingly given up their information earnestly. In other words, he could give the BEST possible answer to every question asked of him, AFTER the whole process had been fulfilled

    b. He “pushed” himself onto unwitting candidates professing wanting to be their new Def Coord as part of the deal if they were to get the job

    c. He looks like a Savior instead of what really happened in REALITY behind the scenes

    The kids and parents are getting what they DON’T see with the new head coach of the Dragons, not what it appears to be.

    O’dowd created a new LOW in the hiring process of a head football coach. Shame on everybody involved.

  • for the sake of the “kids”, I wish them the best and hope it all works out in the end.

  • Bigdaddy

    In my mind, they should have made a coaching change years ago. Coach P is a dispicable human – man who long lost the respect of his teaching and coaching peers. He should have been run out of town light years ago. There are far too many athletes at the school for it not to have a successful football program. The reason for the lack of success in the past decade is the kids wanted nothing to do with Coach P. It’s sad, especially for parents who had to endure his antiquated, abrasive personality. Dude walked around campus with such an air of arrogance that it was nauseating. Good thing that he was canned and good thing they have a coach who actually played the game, not some gray-beard living off his high school memories. So hate as you will. The dye has been cast. Deal with it.

  • Coach Murph

    COme on now guys. This is Hardy Nickerson were talkin about. At one time he was of the best Linebackers in the League.

  • renegades10

    Great players don’t always make great coaches. Who knows this may turn out to be a great hire, but you can’t deny that there were very strange circumstances that led to this point.

  • KillerD

    Strange circumstances is about the nicest possible thing anybody could say about this horrifying process that took place and the Machiavellian angles played.

  • EBfootball

    Did you know that Greg Biekert (very good former Raider LB) calls the D for Longero at Las Lomas? He probably had some good inside info for Longero. Shoot, he has has more experience to call D if he went with Longero than Nickerson.

  • KillerD

    For those FEW people chanting cheers and praise for the new Odowd Head Football Coach, ask yourself this.

    Would YOU want to work for a man or have your OWN kid play for a man that knowingly behaved as has been detailed throughout this WHOLE proces, before, during and after, OR would you rather work for a man and have your OWN kid play for a man who Did NOT do these things or represent this type of behavior?

    WAKE UP, this was a bad, bad move by Odowd and everybody involved.

    Perenon looks VERY good right about now, especially compared to the new coach just named today

  • KillerD

    Reading the entire press release by the Dragons today, they seem to call upon integrity, values and the like in terms of WHY they chose the new coach.


    You have to be KIDDING me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • KillerD

    PS – a man or coach of great INTEGRITY would have NEVER allowed himself to be on the Interview Panel in the first place if he/himself wanted to be the new head coach or the new Def Coord for the new head coach.

    Shameful, awful in every way.

    I always root for new coaches to do well, BUT this move will test my mettle on that motto to its very core, but for the Kids sake I will wish them well

  • KillerD

    By the way, last week one of the Bloggers said that my information could not be trusted until things played out.

    Well, not only did I and a couple others nail this one on the money, but UNFORTUNATELY my information PROVED to be 100% accurate

    ******Looking forward to the news of the new Berkeley coach

  • That dude pulled a mutiny on Perenon.

  • Viva El Dragon!! Quit hatin’ KillerD!!


  • KillerD

    Now that this backdoor hire and repugnant process by Odowd has shed its skin in public, launching off from what Murdoc said above is,

    Start at the beginning to today:

    a. Odowd fires Perenon after getting complaints from concerned parents and kids (Who? Why? What?)

    b. Odowd puts together a search committee and the newly named Odowd head coach is ON the Interview panel. INSTEAD OF DOING THE RIGHT THING…..he stays ON the Interview Panel and THEN Openly campaigns to become the new Def Coord to potential candidates he is interviewing.

    c. OR…………he’s doing this immature and ———– behavior on Purpose in Order to Turn the Stomachs of these highly qualified Candidates…so ALL the Top guys FLEE the Scene and after the dust settles he is tapped by Odowd to pick up the pieces and help the program by becoming the new head coach

    d. OR, OR….he is OBLIVIOUS to the Facts at Hand and is SOMEHOW TOTALLY UNAWARE OF HIS IMPLICIT ROLE AND HAS NO IDEA WHAT an awful Conflict of Interest and how hollow the merit of his integrity appears to all outside viewers with any common sense

    e. SO, if either Option B, C or D above are true….EITHER way if it Smells Like a Skunk, Looks Like a Skunk and Acts Like a Skunk, then it must be a SKUNK.

  • KillerD

    A very well respected head coach in the Concord area sent out an email today to those of us he’s known for quite a while after Odowd made their announcement, and part of his quote below is:

    “what a joke by odowd and i’m a wiser man that i thought turning them down!”

  • Jayden

    O’dowd KNew what they were doing from the beginning. The “search” was just a formality! Hope they get someone more qualified then Simms at Berkeley. I hear he is a great guy but I rather have someone with more BIG SCHOOL experience coaching my nephew!

  • brandonbeard

    man you know this sounds like alot of hating going on! SOme of you should really be ashamed of urselves. Like the saying, if you dont have anythng good to say then don’t say anything at all. SOme of you are just going off of hearsay and dont even know coach Nickerson, and He has to be given the chance to prove himself as well and the bottom line is that he has played on the next level and should be able to relate to the kids and get a solid program going!

  • bhsfan

    b high has found their coach it will b announced soon

  • everyone is entitled to an opinion and I respect that. who knows if nickerson will pan out to be a good fit for odowd, but he does deserve the chance and there coulda been worse choices made than a former pro football player who has also coached on the next level. i am gonna actually take my kids advice for once and get over it. what’s done is done. everyone will not always agree, there are some who are happy with the decision and some who aren’t.

  • KillerD

    Watching the Dragons hiring process unravel and in talking with candidates who went through the process with first hand experience, I have now forever lost all respect for the existing Odowd administration that was involved with this. Whomever the people were that sat on that panel as ADULTS – I’ve got no respect for them. The kids are not to blame.

    About the new Dragons head coach —- I have ZERO respect for him and the way he conducted himself during the whole process.

    No MATTER What Anybody says, there are ONLY three possible realities that took place. So examine them:

    1. Odowd has a search committee and the newly chosen Odowd head coach is Actually Siting ON the Interview panel in charge of CHOOSING the BEST New Head Coach. So, what does he do with that power? INSTEAD OF DOING THE RIGHT THING AS A MAN OF MORALITY and INTEGRITY…..he ‘somehow decides’ to stay ON the Interview Panel?!!? THEN, he campaigns to become the new Def Coord to the candidates he is actually interviewing!!!!

    2. Second Option: He’s emanating an incredibly immature and —– behavior on PURPOSE in Order to Turn the Stomachs inside-out of the highly qualified Candidates. The Result is, ALL the Top guys FLEE the Scene Shaking their heads in disbelief after dealing with him on the panel. So, the dust settles, and this parent/coach is then chosen by Odowd to pick up the pieces and help the program.

    3. The last option is: The parent/coach is totally OBLIVIOUS to the impact and projected image of HIS OWN BEHAVIOR and the FACTS (remember this is NOT rumor) and HE is SOMEHOW TOTALLY UNAWARE OF HIS IMPLICIT ROLE AND HAS NO IDEA WHAT a terrible example he is and how this incredibly bad Conflict of Interest is.

    **** SO to EVERY reader on this board who is a Football Coach or Parent of a Football Player, WHICH one is it?

    1, 2 or 3?

    EITHER way, if it Smells Like a Skunk, Looks Like a Skunk and Acts Like a Skunk, then it must be a SKUNK.

  • In the Know

    Does anyone know why KillerD is such a hater? Were you an applicant that got turned down? Were you somehow burned by O’dowd or the administration? I mean come on man. I read a post from what seemed like a reliable source on Norcalpreps that said that Nickerson was not actually on the panel, but was consulted. If this is the case then most of your argument is false, but who knows, because there is no fact check on a blog.

    Did people really turn down the job? Who knows, all hearsay from this bitter bitter person KillerD… again, I contend, who really knows. But if O’Dowd had no job to offer, and no on campus position, then maybe that is why you see no other coach leaving their school to go for that position. Meanwhile Nickerson has been there, knows the kids, has been running spring ball and is willing to step to the plate.

    I am not defending Nickerson, if what you say is even partially true, then clearly the hiring process could have been more on the up and up; but even still I find it disgusting to publicly smear a man, and an administration all the while hiding behind a false moniker on a high school blog.


    Another way to put the BOD coaching travesty is to use the old line about a duck … if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it must be a duck; it can be painted but it is still a duck…
    Killer D has hit this one dead square on the bulls eye (from the beginning I might add). My sources are very close to the BOD situation and they all CONFIRM that Nickerson did undermine Coach Perenon and the staff (as reported by other bloggers on this site and norcal prep); Nickerson WAS an active participant in the interviews and screening; Nickerson was part of the deal for the new coach (maybe why Longero turned it down); Nickerson claimed to support the work the work and efforts of Coach Perenon and his staff, then two-faced him in meetings with the BOD administration; Nickerson has been overheard saying that he got involved in this situation because of his kid at the school. Face it, folks, this whole thing has dirty pool and ugly stamped all over it from the beginning. They force a great coach out, a man of loyalty integrity, ethics and values, a coach with high standards who, by the way, has built and kept the BOD program competitive for 20+ years, a man who welcomed Nickerson and his family to the school and on his staff and they force him to either resign or not be hired back after 25 years and only two poor seasons at a school that had NO FOOTBALL TRADITION OR LEGACY prior to him being the head coach; Nickerson and the incompetent adminsistrators oversee a backroom search process with the most unethical one of all (Nickerson) evaluating candidates when he knew all along that he wanted the job, and then he gets it.

    This is ugly, unethical and says much about how BOD is doing its business these days. One wonders about how long those who oversee the operation of BOD will tolerate this immoral behavior and go about replacing those who participated in this sham.

    Come on O’Dowd, your community expects more
    from you. These blogs will only serve to educate the East bay public of your misgivings and let the truth be known. Shame on you Nickerson, shame on you O’Dowd.

  • KillerD

    IntheKnow – I am friends with a couple of candidates that applied and YES as confirmed by multiple sources, the new Odowd Head Coach WAS an active Member ON the Interview Panel.

    My peace has been said and I wish the kids at Odowd well.

    I am not smearing anybody at all, just stating the FACTS and my Opinion of what happened since I’ve been privy to all of the facts all along, the new head coach’s actions at Odowd Unfortunately speak ill of itself

    I am done with Odowd and look forward to the exciting Berkeley hire

  • oh i am sure there are schools out there with admins etc that have done worse than odowd. i am not defending them or their actions in anyway, but I am also not going to condemn them as if they committed murder. as for longero, the past two seasons my nephew has been under the impression his coach might “leave” yet he’s still there, so it is a possibility that IF he turned the position down it was because that just what he does.

  • bhsfan

    not having an on campus job for the new coach a BOD couldve been a major factor to other coaches turning the job down. the new coach at b high needs to b on campus and the admin is working on doing that for this upcoming fall sem. it could b some truth to coach nickerson being on the panel but these coaching salary for a season isnt enough to feed ur family, and i did hear that BOD didnt offer an oncampus job.


    Not true about BOD not offering an on campus job with the football position. According to one applicant who interviewed, he was offered the FB job ALONG WITH AN UNSPECIFIED TEACHING position. Accepting the job at BOD was also conditional on taking Nickerson as the defensive coordinator, consistent with Killer D’s posts. My sources tell me that none of the “top” applicants wanted to have Nickerson including O’Dowd’ first choice.

    As Killer D says, Coach Perenon is looking better and better every day!

  • Jayden

    Lets move on. O’Dowd showed it’s true colors. I am retiring my black n gold memorabilia! And will stop donating as well. Now for BHS. I stated last night I hope they hire someone with BIG SChool experience. Not to take anything away from Sims but I believe this year he had 10 really great seniors on his that got him that last championship, then he skips out? Not showing a lot of class there. Rumor has it he is buddy buddy with Alonzo so I am sure he will get the job anyway. He would make an awesome assistant under someone like Perenon!

  • jacketfan

    jayden:It was not buddy buddy that had sims apply for the bhs job! His teams have played great with what they had at st. liz. I see him using all his talent at bhs if he gets the job. I think the kids/parents are going to love this guy if he gets the job. so jayden be ready to support whoever bhs hires!!!!

  • renegades10

    sims had good seniors in a small talent pool that came in through the program with him. imagine him at berkeley with a huge talent pool. he is a fantastic coach.

  • Jayden

    I will support BHS because my nephew is there. But I also listen to the talk around town as to the status Sims left his team in, not looking to good. It is all politics who get these jobs in the bay area be it my own BOD, Berkeley High, Fremont High it doesnt matter.

  • Momma

    Congrats Coach Sims!!!!….. It is official:-)

  • bhsfan

    jayden you should get ur facts straight, 1st it has not been announced who the b high coach is, 2nd coach carter didnt even know that sims applied 4 the job until beginning of march and he was very high on coach barnes the now new coach at arroyo. 3rd coach carter wasnt even on the panel, carter didnt pick who the coach was going to b, i think zo might b a lil busy trying to get his college team ready, the buddy buddy thing is an incorrect statement. now if sims is the coach at st liz, i really dont think that changes the roster at that school, so im not sure what bad status that team is n if he has actually left. yes sims did interview just like all other coaches that applied and it has not been announced who the new coach is. but who is ur nephew

  • exdragonslayer

    Nickerson was promised the football job by the dragons brass before interviews began at bishop o’dowd, if all other coaches that were finalists were against having Nickerson on their staff as the defensve coordinator.

    The interviews were a charade from the beginning.

    Sums up the fate and the debate regarding the parties associated with the dragons now. They deserve each other and after two mediocre seasons or worse, Nickerson will move back east or onto another coaching job after seeing his son graduate from bishop o’dowd in 2012.

    It’s a dysfunctinal marriage made in hell

  • exdragonslayer

    If anyone thinks this information about Nickerson is false, maybe one of the good Sportswriters from the Bay Area News Group could interview Nickerson?

    Asked Nickerson what he thought about his experience as a voting member of the interview committee?

    What was it like for him to be on a committee interviewing candidates?

    Didn’t he feel weird or strange about being on the committee?

    Why didn’t he recuse himself from the beginning as would be the norm, as normal people would do?

    What type of response did he get from coaches after discussing with them for him to be their defensive coordinator?

    These questions and others should be asked of Nickerson and the bishop o’dowd brass.

  • Former Dragon

    As a former player that played on Coach Perenon’s 2004 Championship Team I am truly sad about the process. O’Dowd used to be about family and had values. Not everyone will like the head coach of any school. This goes back to when the priest were kicked out of the school and the new administration came me and started to clean house. When phelps was hired I was a senior at the school. We all knew who his brother was and we wanted no part of him. The senior parents were mad that they would hire someone from that family after what his brother did. IF I ever decide to visit that school again I will not even bother to meet the new coach because he does not deserve any former dragons support. Having been apart of O’Dowd program since I was 8 years old, I have seen how Coach P changed so many lives. Coach P you will always have my support. Bishop O’Dowd will not gain my support anymore. There goes any type of donation. Coach Nickerson I would like to see you win 200+ games… Probably not going to happen.

  • former dragon, as a current dragon parent i would just like to share with u that my experience with odowd has been nothing but positive so far. i am not associated with football but another odowd sport and i have to say that both the coach and phelps has made it clear to my son that education comes first. phelps has also been guiding my younger child who has a learning disability into achieving some of his academic goals. didn’t want to get all sappy, but i had to defend phelps who i feel is actually doing something to help my family.

  • Jayden

    I would not jeopordize my nephew like that. Evidentally Coach Sims told his mustangs last night at a banquet. Perhaps he was bluffing. The bottom line is , it is all a joke.

  • exdragonslayer

    Could one of the very good Sportswriters from the Bay Area News Group could interview Nickerson?

    Ask Nickerson what he thought about his experience as a voting member of the interview committee?

    What was it like for him to be on a committee interviewing candidates?

    Didn’t he feel weird or strange about being on the committee?

    Why didn’t he recuse himself from the beginning as would be the norm, as normal people would do?

    What type of response did he get from coaches after discussing with them for him to be their defensive coordinator?

  • exdragonslayer

    the dragon brass will remain silent about Nickerson being on the interview committee and not recusing himself.

    Nickerson has nothing to say, he already said it with his own actions

  • jayden

    BHSFAN, Oh I have my facts str8…..watch as it unfolds.Obviously you are a berkeley Fan. I have ties to Berkeley and St LIz and am a O’dowd alum. Yes I would say I am in the know. As a matter of fact I know way more than I like. This is about the kids. Not sure how much you know about how St Liz or O dowds programs were run, perhaps you should check your facts!

  • bhsfan

    jayden trust and believe i got facts straight most def n the know, u cant even say if sims is gone what he did to the team, no matter who the coach at st liz is it wont change who will b on the team, kids dont enroll as freshmen or transfer there just to play footbll, sims takes what he gets there and make it work and out of curiousity does ur nephew play at b high and who is he. i have talked to a few people that was on the interview panel for the b high job the person they selected was basically all agreed upon by the whole panel. i think i might have more inside info then u do

  • Jayden

    Obviously you have missed my point all together.