Coach Lynn Lang is not afraid to talk about his past.
All of it.
And it’s a story that covers one of the most notorious recruiting scandals in NCAA history. A tale that almost resembles a championship game with twists and turns, big money and key players.
But there is another side to Lang’s journey that includes transforming kids into athletic treasures. It was about shining those diamonds in the rough before the scandal, the newspapers and EPSN.
Today Lang is putting his history on the table and having a piece of humble pie on the side as he looks to the future...his future with Yazoo City and her boys as the head football coach.
“I believe your life story can become a testimony,” Lang said, at his desk in the Harold C. Kelly field house. “Sometimes you have to go through a situation to be refined and better. And now...I’m humbled.”
Long before the saga of prep star peddling and piecing together a new life, Lang was just a boy from Greenville.
“Football was a way of life,” Lang said. “My love for the game started at an early age. I knew it was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
Lang graduated from Greenville High School in 1988. With a scholarship under his arms, he headed off to Alcorn State University.
“My Momma told me one or two things would happen when I graduated,” Lang said. “Either I go to college or get a job. Football became my avenue to make that happen.”
Football was his game. He even played alongside the late NFL legend Steve McNair and his brother Fred McNair.
Lang was also coached by former YCHS head football coach Tony Woolfolk.
“I’m really proud of my time there,” Lang said, pointing to a framed picture on his wall. “We were the 1992 SWAC Champions.”
Lang majored in Health and Physical Education, graduating in 1993.
Lang accepted his first football job in 1994 at Trezevant High School in Memphis. Working his way up through the athletic chain, he landed the head football coach position in 1996.
Lang was a young coach in his early 20s. In previous interviews, he describes himself as a strong-willed young man whose world “was all about me.”
Trezevant High School was one of Memphis’ inner city schools. But there was talent.
And Lang’s record shows that he knew how to use it.
Lang was there for seven years, four as the head coach. And he went 36-16.
In 1999, his team went undefeated in a 9-0 season.
“We were undefeated that year,” Lang said, pointing to the plaque above his head. “We made the playoffs every year while I was there.”
But it was also at Trezevant where Lang’s story takes a turn, a turn that would tatter his reputation.
In 2000, Lang had Tennessee’s Mr. Football on his team in defensive tackle Albert Means.
Means had suitors from all across the country, including the University of Arkansas, the University of Mississippi, Michigan State University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Alabama.
Not only did Means have suitors, but Lang thought he had a price.
Through bribery from prominent Alabama booster and wealthy businessman Logan Young, Lang steered Means to Alabama.
In 2005 Lang admitted he took $150,000 from Young to ensure that Means attended Alabama
The trial gained national attention. There were hundreds of newspaper articles. ESPN even chimed in.
And in the end, the key players were brought to the spotlight of a media frenzy.
Lang was convicted of crossing state lines as a part of racketeering conspiracy. He was sentenced to two years supervised probation, 500 hours of community service and was fined $2,500.
The University of Alabama was placed on a five year probation that included a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 21 scholarships, a tremendous blow to one of the nation’s top programs.
Lang was not forced to return the bribery money.
Young, who was an Alabama booster, was convicted on federal charges of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering.
Young was later found dead in his home in 2006. What was first described as a “brutal” murder scene was later corrected when autopsy reports showed that Young died from an accidental fall.
Means only played one season at Alabama before transferring to Memphis State University.
Lang knows it’s a controversy that he will never escape. But he says that he learned from it.
“I had to go through it to get to the point where I am now,” Lang said. “It was my first job. I was young, but I am not making excuses.”
After the trial, Lang quietly headed for Michigan. His wife Stephanie was enrolled at law school there. And Lang wanted to start over.
It was in Michigan that he earned his Master’s degree in Administration.
In 2007, Lang returned home to Mississippi, accepting the job as assistant principal at Port Gibson High School.
A year later, he was named the head principal, but he missed the field.
“I can affect kids more with a football more than I can behind a desk,” he said.
When the Blues Waves’ coach Willie Brown resigned, Lang took over as Port Gibson’s football coach.
While Lang was ready to hit the field, he had more than his own history to consider. The Blue Waves had their own.
Port Gibson was perhaps the weakest football program in the state at the 4A level and above. The team had won just one game in two seasons.
“Port Gibson was not use to winning,” Lang said.
But through his years there, Lang groomed the team past its reputation of a losing club. They began winning and heading into playoffs.
And then the state came in. The Mississippi Department of Education put a stop to athletics, placing the Claiborne School District on probation.
“The next game we were supposed to play before the games got cut was Yazoo City,” Lang said. “I remember watching those tapes of Yazoo playing and thinking, ‘I’m in trouble.’”
Lang then spent a short time in the Leland School District.
On June 10, Lang was hired as the new head football coach at Yazoo City High School.
“I am glad to be back doing what I do with football,” he said. “And Yazoo City Indians have a history and tradition of winning. It’s not going to be a hard sell to tell them they are winners.”
Lang says he sees a ton of talent and potential with the Indians.
“These boys are doing everything that I ask of them,” Lang said. “You can tell by the way they are working that they want to succeed.”
Lang said he knows the community may have reservations about him. It doesn’t take long to find the stories of the recruiting scandal and high-profile federal trial.
But he said he is a changed man who admits he can use his experiences to help others not make the same mistake.
Lucille Lovette, interim superintendent of the city schools, said she feels good about his arrival.
"Mr. Lang comes to us from two previous school districts," Lovette said. “He worked with the Port Gibson school district and the Leland school district. He came highly recommended, so we feel that he will be an asset here to our program."
Lovette added that he is fully licensed by the Mississippi Department of Education.
“I am thankful...to have been given the opportunity to lead the Indians,” Lang said.