Burgess, a graduate of Jones Valley High School, lettered in football at Auburn then began his coaching career as a football assistant at Banks High School in Birmingham. He became head football coach at Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School in 1967.
In 1971, Burgess began a 14-year tenure as head football coach at Oxford High School. His Oxford teams were 107-41-4 and reached the AHSAA playoffs eight times.
Burgess became head football coach at Jacksonville State University in 1985, a position he held through the 1996 season. In 12 seasons, his career record at Jacksonville State was 84-49-4. The 1992 Gamecocks were NCAA Division II national champion. Burgess won four Gulf South Conference crowns and five straight invitations to the NCAA Division II playoffs. Jacksonville State advanced to the Division II title game in three of those five seasons.
Burgess was a three-time Gulf South Conference coach-of-the-year selection and was named the 1992 NCAA Division II national coach-of-the-year.
With Burgess at the helm, Jacksonville State won the Gulf South Conference in 1988 with a 7-1 record. The Gamecocks won the 1989 GSC title with a perfect 8-0 record and finished as NCAA runner-up. Jax State then finished 6-0 in 1991 and 5-0-1 in 1992 to win back-to-back GSC titles, capped with the 1992 national championship in JSU’s final game as a Division II member. Burgess coached the Gamecocks from 1985 until 1996.
He was inducted into the Jacksonville State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.