Melendez: ‘Different direction’ shows no direction

I have again started writing my weekly columns that run in Friday’s sports section. This week’s column (published today in the Star-News sports section on page 2) focuses on the lack of transparency in the recent dismissal of two prominent coaches.

MIGUEL MELENDEZ COLUMN

What is it with schools wanting to go in a “different direction”?

First, Temple City High School and its football coach and now Muir and its track and field coach.

It just doesn’t make sense.

Who fixes something that isn’t broken? More troubling is the timing.

If you don’t agree you might want to read this sitting down.

First, Temple City High School.

The school decided they are not happy with the direction Randy Backus was taking the football program. He got the ax a couple weeks ago, the decision coming two months after an incident in which school officials said he grabbed a student and cursed at him.

Oddly enough, Backus’ firing had little to do with that.

Really? So what was it?

Temple City High School athletic director John Van De Veere said the decision was based on school officials’ overall dissatisfaction with Backus’ performance as a head coach.

Lets go to the source.

“I’m just going to (say) that we decided to go in a different direction,” said Temple City High principal Mary Jo Fosselman-King when finally reached last week for an interview. “I don’t want to get into specifics.”

Of course you don’t, Mary Jo.

And what happens when specifics are not disclosed to the public? They come to their own conclusions, and so far it’s not Backus whose been put in bad light.

The excuse “deciding to go in a different direction” is downright laughable considering Backus’ short tenure as head coach: two seasons.

Last season under Backus, only five out of 110 players were ineligible during the season; Twenty one of his 38 varsity players had a 3.0 GPA or better; There was a 98 percent attendance rate for 6 a.m. workouts during fall camp and mandatory tutoring and study hall during the season and off-season, according to Backus who added he can back the information.

In his first season as head coach Backus led the Rams to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Last season, Temple City was a contender in the Rio Hondo League, and how unfortunate Backus couldn’t be there to watch the seeds he planted grow as the Rams made a remarkable run to the semifinals of the Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

How the school managed to let the legend that is Mike Mooney walk
away for a San Marino High School position is a mystery, but to do it again and let not only Backus go but possibly the entire football coaching staff as a result of Backus’ firing is practically a slap in the face to every football player who has seen two great coaches leave.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, right?

This is where the boosters and alumni need to voice their displeasure in droves.

Many have on our blog:

Goldenarm said: “UNBELIEVEABLE. How the (heck) can they let him teach, be all over campus for this long but then pull his ticket??? They strung the man out, and played with his future, and took no decisive action, meandering in whatever route they took to get here. I feel somewhat ashamed as a (Temple City) supporter.”

More Than (Upset) said: “I’ll take the integrity of Randy Backus any day over any administrator or board member. Shame on you Temple City! I hope you lose every game for the rest of your pitiful lives.”

Fighting Back said: I am withholding any monetary contributions to Temple City High School from this point on.”

The position opens to the public Monday, but after all this who would
apply?

Next week: the mess at Muir High School and its bogus firing of track
coach Michael Knowles.

miguel.melendez@sgvn.com
(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4485