Friday Night Lights

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Gary Gaines Character Analysis

Coach of the Permian Panthers, Gary Gaines is tagged by some in the community as “too soft” to lead his team to the ultimate goal—a state championship. Although Permian loses to Carter in the state semis in 1988, Bissinger reports that, in 1989, Permian wins the state title, guaranteeing that Gaines gets to keep his job—at least for a little while, since the culture of West Texas football demands continued success.

Gary Gaines Quotes in Friday Night Lights

The Friday Night Lights quotes below are all either spoken by Gary Gaines or refer to Gary Gaines. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Football Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Perseus edition of Friday Night Lights published in 1990.
Chapter 4: Dreaming of Heroes Quotes

After Billy died, Mike’s life didn’t get any easier. He had a brother who was sent to prison for stealing. At home he lived with his mother, who worked at a service station convenience store as a clerk. They didn’t have much money. . . . His mother was enormously quiet and reserved, almost like a phantom. Coach Gaines, who spent almost as much time dealing with parents as he did with the players, had never met her.

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Gary Gaines, Mike Winchell
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

Bissinger moves on to describe the physical, emotional, and financial deprivations of another member of the Permian Panthers. For Mike Winchell, life has more or less always been difficult. Football, though it seems brutal from the stands, is actually a form of comfort to him. The game has rules that can be followed, and there is a winner and a loser. This is true for many of the Permian Panthers: the violence of the football field is nothing compared to the difficulties one encounters at home or in school.

Bissinger's description of Mike's family life indicates some other features of life in the Odessa region. There is a sense of reserve throughout the place, especially among families who have lived in rural communities for a long time—an unwillingness to complain openly about the difficulties that have wracked their lives. This then exists in contrast to the showiness of the football displays, the parades, and the booms of oil wealth. These contradictions—the quiet "grin and bear it" attitude mixed with the flash and pizzazz of a football parade—are the foundations of the Odessa community. 

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Friday Night Lights quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 8: East Versus West Quotes

We know that OHS is going to be fired to the hilt and I want to match them emotion for emotion . . . It’s gonna be a big crowd. It’s an exciting game. I wish everybody that has an opportunity to play the gam of football all over the United States had an opportunity to play in a game like this. You’re part of a select group.

Related Characters: Gary Gaines (speaker)
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:

Gary Gaines wants to make sure his players understand the importance of the crosstown rivalry game with Odessa High. Permian has long been the football power in the community, drawing players from the generally wealthier, more developed part of town. This does not mean, however, that Odessa is entirely unable to compete, or that Permian can "sleepwalk" its way through the game and expect to win.

Gaines also notes what many of the players feel—that football season is, essentially, the emotional pinnacle of their lives, and that winning on the field does in fact mean that they have "won," at least in this portion of their lives. Gaines might understand that this is a large burden to place on the shoulders of a young person. But that does not keep him from encouraging the players to work as hard as possible to earn another victory.

Chapter 12: Civil War Quotes

His ear had been throbbing for about two months, and it was just one of several ailments that had come up during the course of the season. He was glassy-eyed and barely able to say a word, his thoughts still fixed on what had happened on the field . . . .

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Gary Gaines, Sharon Gaines
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

In many ways, Gary Gaines has a good job—he is paid well for what he does, and his name is known throughout the community. But being the head coach of the Permian Panthers comes with an immense load of stress. Gaines is expected to win, and to win consistently. He is not given much leeway in terms of performance. He can lose on occasion, but he cannot make a habit of it—not for the boosters of the Permian team, who view success as part and parcel of the "Mojo mystique."

These pressures take their toll on Gaines. He does not complain about them openly, but his wife and family also participate in the difficulties of the football season, and they worry about Gaines' health as it is connected to the success of his players.

How could he have called the plays he did? What had happened to him in the second half, going time and time again with those plodding, thudding sweeps? Didn’t he remember the gorgeous bomb Winchell had thrown in the second quarter, so perfect it was like something in a dream? . . . .

Related Characters: Buzz Bissinger (speaker), Gary Gaines, Mike Winchell
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, Bissinger imitates the complaints that Permian fans might lodge against Gaines when the game does not go his way. This is how coaching is difficult: fans, who do not have an immediate inroad into the team's construction and game-plan, nevertheless feel that they are part of the Permian Panthers, and therefore more than able to comment on the teams' on-field performance.

Gaines understands that these complaints, and the handling of them, are part of the job of the head coach of the "Mojo" squad. He does his best to take them in stride. But Bissinger notes just how taxing it can be to drown out the noise that some of even the most devoted fans direct at their beloved team. People love Permian football, but they love it in no small part because the team is so wildly successful so much of the time.

Chapter 14: Friday Night Addiction Quotes

Dear God, we’re thankful for this day, we’re thankful for this opportunity you’ve given us to display the talent that you’ve blessed us with. Heavenly Father, we thank you for these men and these black jersies, tank you for the ability that you’ve given ‘em and the character that you’ve given ‘em.

Related Characters: Gary Gaines (speaker)
Related Symbols: Black and White
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:

Coach Gaines here argues that it is indeed a divine blessing to be able to coach for, play for, and root for the Permian Panthers. Bissinger takes this relationship between religion and football seriously. He does not wish to make fun of Gaines, who genuinely believes that it is an honor and privilege to play for Permian High. And Bissinger does not poke fun at the players and fans, for whom religion is an integral part of life, as is football. Why, Bissinger seems to ask, would these two tenants need to be separate, after all? If there is Divine Wisdom in all things, surely this wisdom would extend to football—at least in the eyes of a Permian fan or player.

Bissinger thus situates Gaines as a central authority figure in the book. Gaines is far from perfect—he puts an enormous amount of pressure on his players, for example. But he is still a man who tries his best to lead young men in an often-violent game. And he does so out of at least a partial conviction that what is good for Permian football is good for Odessa. 

Get the entire Friday Night Lights LitChart as a printable PDF.
Friday night lights.pdf.medium

Gary Gaines Character Timeline in Friday Night Lights

The timeline below shows where the character Gary Gaines appears in Friday Night Lights. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...take comfort in his vomiting, since it means that preparations are all going to plan. Gary Gaines, coach of the Permian Panthers, calls the team in for a pep talk before... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...considered one of Permian’s most talented in history. People in town increase their calls for Gaines to be fired; they believe he is not “strong enough” for the job of Permian... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Ambivalence of Ivory
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Back in Odessa, some of the residents of the town begin calling more loudly for Coach Gaines’ firing, since the Panthers are 1-1: the first time they’ve had a .500 record... (full context)
Chapter 8: East Versus West
Football Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...its former self. Odessa has not beaten Permian in 23 years, and before the game, Coach Gaines urges the Panthers to crush Odessa, to run up the score, and to ensure... (full context)
Chapter 11: Sisters
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger transitions to the Midland Lee-Permian game, and to a pregame speech that Coach Gaines delivers just before. The speech, about an Olympic swimmer named Steve Genter, praises that... (full context)
Chapter 12: Civil War
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...game for his team, and Chavez and McDougal are nearly beside themselves with sadness. Sharon Gaines, Gary Gaines’ wife, tries to find and console her husband after the loss. She, Gary,... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger describes Gaines’ travails during the season: his physical ailments, including an earache, and the constant pressures of... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Bissinger compares Gaines to the prior coach at Permian, John Wilkins, who is now the athletic director for... (full context)
Chapter 13: Heads or Tails
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...after the final games of the season. After Permian defeats San Angelo, Bissinger rides with Coach Gaines and Assistant Coach Belew to a small gas station diner in the middle of... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
On the ride to the toss, Gaines and Belew talk about their youth and about football in almost romantic terms. But this... (full context)
Chapter 14: Friday Night Addiction
Football Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
Permian wins its first game of the playoffs, against Amarillo, very easily, although Coach Gaines is upset with what he consider a sloppy effort over a much weaker opponent.... (full context)
Chapter 16: Field of Dreams
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...He notes that Shawn Crow, former Permian standout, is watching the game nervously, as is Gaines’ wife Sharon, and Boobie, in the stands, where he wonders whether he made the right... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...McDougal and Chavez, cry bitterly, knowing that their seasons and high-school football lives are over. Gaines thanks the team for its wonderful year, and they gather together one last time in... (full context)
Epilogue
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
...championship in ’88, after a strong performance in the title game. Both Derric Evans and Gary Edwards were recruited to play D-1 college football, but in the spring and summer of... (full context)
Football Theme Icon
Race and Racial Divisions Theme Icon
Wealth, Poverty, and the Boom-Bust Cycle Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Winning, Losing, and a Purpose in Life Theme Icon
And Gary Gaines, long thought to be “too soft” for the coaching job, leads the ’89 squad,... (full context)