The son of a career U.S. Army sergeant, Gary Otten was born in Germany on Oct. 19, 1963, while his father was serving in the military. The family moved to Huntsville in 1966 but was stationed in Italy from 1973-75. Then they moved back to Huntsville, where Gary was enrolled at Chapman Elementary School. He began playing football at Oak Park at the
age of 8.
Because Otten was always the biggest kid in his age group, his father carried Gary's birth certificate to all his youth games in case other parents might question the boy's age. Gary went on to Lee High School, lettering in football, basketball, baseball and track from 1978-82. In football, he was moved from tackle to center his senior year and helped lead the Generals to a city championship. Otten was named All-City, All-State, captain of the team and was chosen for the AHSAA All-Star game. He signed a football scholarship with the University of Alabama and was a member of coach Paul "Bear'' Bryant's final team, which defeated Illinois in the Liberty Bowl. While at Alabama, he played alongside a number of other players from Huntsville, including Ricky Moore, Willard Scissum, Hoss Johnson, Wes Neighbors, Mike Adcock, Hardy Walker, Scott McRae and Steve Booker. In 2006, Otten was inducted into the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Redshirted as a freshman, he missed his entire junior year because of knee surgery, but was still able to play in 31 games at Alabama, starting 19 times for coach Ray Perkins. His most memorable moments, says Gary, were victories over Auburn in 1984 and 1985 and the Crimson Tide's win over Notre Dame in 1986. After graduating with a degree in Physical Education, Otten worked as a graduate assistant for coach Bill Curry. "I was in charge of the defensive scout team that went against coach Homer Smith's powerful offenses in practices,'' Otten said. "We held our own against them because we had a few of the guys who later played for the 1992 national championship team.''
Otten went on to coach football for 13 years at the University of West Georgia, serving as offensive line coach and offensive coordinator before becoming head coach in 2001. West Georgia won at least eight games in each of the last seven sevens, shared three Gulf South Conference championships and participated in four NCAA Division II playoffs. After coaching the Braves to an 8-3 season in 2001, Otten retired a few months later and returned to Huntsville to begin a new career in Pharmaceutical sales. He currently works for Boehringer-Ingelheim and sells medicines to many family doctors in northeast Alabama. Otten is single, but has been dating Lawana Scott for the past year.