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Gary Gaines, Coach Depicted in 'Friday Night Lights,' Dies at 73

2008 Summer TCA Tour - Day 13

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Gary Gaines, the former coach of Odessa Permian depicted in the book and film Friday Night Lights, died in Lubbock, Texas on Monday at the age of 73, following a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease, his family confirmed in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.

Gaines, who coached numerous programs in West Texas during his 30-year career, is best known for his initial four seasons at Odessa Permian (1986-89).

The 1988 Odessa Permian team -- which lost in the Texas state semifinals -- was chronicled by author Buzz Bissinger for his 1990 best-selling book Friday Night Lights, which later inspired the 2004 film in which Gaines was played by Billy Bob Thornton.

Gaines had publicly stated that he never read the book -- which portrayed the program as placing athletics over academics and attributed racist comments to assistant coaches -- and had felt betrayed by Bissinger after allowing the author to spend the entire 1988 season with the team, the AP reports.

Odessa Permian won its fifth of six state championships during an undefeated season in 1989, with Gaines finishing his first stint with the program with a 47-6-1 coaching record.

Gaines later coached two of Odessa Permian's rivals, Abilene and San Angelo Central, before returning to the collegiate ranks as the head coach at Abilene Christian and later back to Odessa Permian from 2009-12.

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