DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The first day of fall football practice always brings a fresh start for Florida programs, but Monday at Walton also marked the unexpected end of a coaching tenure.
Braves football coach and athletic director Jimmy Ray Stephens announced he is stepping down to reunite with his former boss, Steve Spurrier, in the Alliance of American Football. Stephens will serve as the offensive line coach for Orlando's yet-to-be-named team in the league, scheduled to begin play in February.
Four-year assistant head coach Bobby Moore has been named the Braves new head coach.
Before taking over Walton in 2012 and leading the Braves to a 32-31 mark in six seasons, Stephens was an assistant under Spurrier for nine seasons at Florida, winning a national championship and five SEC titles.
Despite the timing coming so close to the season, it's an offer too good to pass up.
"I grew up 20 minutes from Orlando," Stephens said. "It gives me an opportunity to finish off the last few years of my career coaching another level. Just looking forward to the relationships with him and some of the other coaches that we coached with together back in the 90s at the University of Florida when we had a great run."
The rest of Spurrier's staff has not been announced. While Stephens would not confirm the other coaches, he did acknowledge that Spurrier is attempting to pull predominantly from his coaching tree.
In the meantime, Stephens is sticking around Defuniak Springs to make the transition to Bobby Moore as seamless as possible.
"I didn't want this to get out to anybody until I had a chance to talk to our players, so they're hearing it from me instead of somebody else," Stephens said. "The timing is bad, but it's out of my control. I'm going to hang around here for a little while and help these guys go through thee transition. Particularly with the A.D. aspect of it, with all the files we have and so forth. So it's going to be a very smooth transition and we'll never miss a beat with our team."
Moore has 24 seasons of head coaching experience, including a stint at Choctawhatchee and a state championship in Tuscaloosa.