Congratulations, I guess, are in order for McDuffie County's newly elected and reelected school board members. In fact, I shook the hand of one of the candidates that did not win and told him congratulations and patted one of the winning candidates on the back while saying "good luck." These are thankless positions that may be more headache than they are worth but somebody has to do it. Interestingly enough these races drew more candidates than I can remember since I've been here.
The school board faces many tough challenges in today's economic climate. We want to provide a top-notch educational and extracurricular program for our children but we don't know how to pay for it. One of the questions asked of the candidates during the campaigns concerned their stances on athletics. All said they were in favor of a strong athletic program but education had to come first. To that I wholeheartedly agree.
On the athletic front however, there is no doubt that this school board will have to come to some conclusion concerning The Brickyard. Plans to improve the football stadium have been in the works for a while once the funds become available from the most recent ESPLOST. I don't have a clue about the current availability of those funds but I have a clue about the stadium. It needs some work.
I realize spending money on a football stadium when the school millage rate was just raised will be as popular as thumbtacks in the punch bowl. Therefore, I expect the board to have to stand pat and not do any major work to The Brickyard. The fact remains however that if varsity, junior varsity and middle school football and high school and middle school soccer are going to be played in that stadium, at the very least the playing surface is going to need immediate attention.
Not only does the field look really bad from a cosmetic standpoint but in my opinion it has become somewhat of a safety issue. It just so happened that we had a couple of rainy Friday nights during football season and the field was quite boggy beneath the grass and weeds and the sidelines were pure mud. If we are lucky enough to have a rainy soccer season, and I say that because we need the rain, the problem is going to be compounded by the poor drainage.
The stadium will have to be added to the list of tough decisions for the school board, and quick. Good luck to the ladies and gentlemen of the board in making these choices.
Meanwhile, the economy does not seem to concern the presidents and athletic directors of several area major universities. Tennessee, Clemson, Auburn and Mississippi State have decided to pay their former football coaches millions of dollars to be their former coach. Paying this kind of money not to work is akin to paying retired autoworkers more to stay home than to show up on the assembly line. Most of us can't understand this concept but none of us would turn down the money if we were in their shoes.
Somehow fans are going to have to get a grip on reality. I mean I'm upset because my favorite team lost three whole games, and I'm generally positive about my team. Colleges would help themselves by discontinuing the knee-jerk practice of extending huge pay raises to coaches every year that they win more games than the season before. As Alabama's Nick Saban pointed out, every coach is only one 5-7 season away from extinction in this environment.
The demand for winning is great but it has become ridiculously costly.
Meanwhile, I have heard from several readers about various topics in the past couple of weeks but I enjoyed none more than the e-mail from one Mr. George P. Burdell of Raleigh, N.C., who informed me that there is a new sheriff in town - in the form of Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson. It was great to hear from Mr. Burdell again, after almost eight long years. I was beginning to think he was no longer around but he reared his head again, and I'm glad to know he is still reading The McDuffie Mirror.
I know he hopes the new sheriff doesn't go 5-7 next year.