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Coaching jobs can change on whims

A well-known, ultra-successful high school football coach once offered a protege some advice. He told him that any coach, no matter what, will inevitably make 10 percent of the fans in a community mad every year.

Subsequently, simple math says that if a coach stays in one place for 10 years everybody in town will then be mad at him about something.

I think the real issue may be not how many a coach fails to please, but which ones. I submit that the same is true of teachers, preachers, principals, politicians, et al. The bottom line is, as many former coaches will attest, there are two types of coaches.

There are coaches that have been fired and coaches that will eventually be fired. The higher up the food chain that coach is, the more likely that old clichÈ will turn out to be true.

Coaches getting fired is a fact of life. In reality, it is nothing for a coach to be ashamed of, unless he has committed some immoral act. When one signs on to be called "coach" and accepts pay for it, there is always the chance of the hammer being dropped.

As difficult as it may be, when a coach gets fired, there is no point in taking it personally.

It hurts when a coach gets fired. It hurts the coach, his family, his friends and his players.

As hard as it may be to believe, it might even hurt the one doing the firing. Anytime a firing occurs, it is because something is not going right, which is bad news for everybody. The perception of where the problem lies is usually different among the parties involved.

I once worked for a football coach that had a three-year record of 26-10. His team was one of only 10 to beat Valdosta during the decade of the 80s. There were more players in the program than at anytime in the school's history. He was fired by the principal and not given a reason why.

High school coaches in Georgia are just like non-tenured teachers. They do not have due process rights. They are employed solely at the will of the school board and administration.

They can have a winning percentage of ninety-five and a state championship ring on every finger and be fired at the drop of a hat.

They can have 10 consecutive losing seasons and the board and administration can rehire them continuously if they see fit to do so. Both of these scenarios are unlikely but entirely possible.

Tenured teachers must be given a legitimate reason if they are dismissed. They have the right to a hearing before the school board if they choose to have one.

Coaching positions enjoy no such privilege. In fact, school administrators and boards will often avoid giving the fired coach a reason so their statements can't come back to bite them in litigation. About the only thing fired coaches ever sue for though is defamation of character or slander. The law just does not provide them with legal standing otherwise.

It was tough, but the coach I previously mentioned accepted his firing and went on to bigger and better things elsewhere.

In fact, he realized his firing was a case of good riddance for himself as much as the school system thought it was for them. Some head jobs are more of a headache than they are worth.

I've always said that high school coaches, especially in money making sports, are under a microscope as if they were earning seven figure salaries.

The woods are full of people that can do a better job or would do things differently. In some instances, that may even be true. That's one of the main reasons that coaches do get fired; there's someone that can do better.

When a head coach is fired, his assistants may not be. Instead of out and out firing the assistants, the new head coach will attempt to make them uncomfortable enough to leave on their own accord. In other words, they get "run off."

Personally, I could handle an honest, straightforward firing better than being shunted aside to wallflower status. Either way, the result is the same.

There's a boo-koo of reasons that coaches get fired. Some are as black and white as a won-loss record, some as vague as what deodorant the coach uses.

When a firing occurs, there's nothing to do but grin and bear it. A grin wears a lot easier than a chip of bitterness on the shoulder.



Web posted on Thursday, May 26, 2005











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