Here is my column from Saturday, in case you missed it.
If I had it to do all over again, the last thing I’d aspire to become is a high school football coach.
That sentiment comes straight from the “Knowing what I know now file …”
And it’s not like I could anyway, but thank heavens I didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for the coaches I cover. But, it isn’t worth it.
Not these days, anyway.
I’m not talking about money. The amount earned compared to the time invested is a well-known scam. But I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about dealing with the parents. One false move. One perceived slight to a kid whose daddy thinks he’s the next Cam Newton when he’s really the next Joe Nobody, and you’ve got serious problems.
And I do mean serious problems.
I mean find another line of work problems.
I mean kiss your teaching credential goodbye problems.
I mean unplug the family computer problems.
No thank you.
Recently, two area football coaches walked away from their jobs because they were backed into a corner and figured it was better to save their careers than to fight and be fired.
Mike Mooney was the assistant principal at San Marino in addition to being head coach of the football team. Mooney had built a reputation as being one of the most respected coaches around. Now he’s looking for other work.
Brian Zavala was a teacher and head coach of the football team at Wilson. He had paid his dues as an assistant coach with good success and finally had been handed the keys to his own program. He’s also looking for work.
Zavala lasted two years. Mooney didn’t even make it past the season. The schools cannot release information as to the two resignations, per district policy. They can simply confirm the decisions of both coaches.
Both coaches have declined to talk on the record about why they felt the need to resign and salvage their careers. Both coaches are family men.
I have been told from reliable sources what the reasons were and it’s not good enough. Not even close.
If the coaches were in fact guilty of the allegations, in neither case did it amount to being fired. That is unless, of course, an angry parent or two wanted to turn the screws on school administrators, and thus create a situation where either the administrators risked their own skin to go to bat for the coaches and probably somewhere down the road risked losing their own job.
In this era in which every person in any type of profession knows his co-workers and superiors are out to protect their own butts, we all know how the situation would’ve turned out for both coaches.
Mooney and Zavala’s situations were very different, but how they arrived at the same point is nearly identical. In both cases, a parent or parents felt wronged by the coach. They did some digging and started throwing things against the wall until something finally stuck.
Were both coaches guilty of some wrongdoing? From what I hear from sources, yes. Did the wrongdoing warrant a resignation to avoid a potential firing?
In my opinion, which is based on what I’ve seen in the past in similar situations, no.
But that’s clearly the world we live in now. If somebody has a grudge, they lay in the weeds until they can nail you.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever done something at your job that would’ve gotten you in trouble IF somebody with a reason to want you gone had been watching.
Now put your hands down, all of you, and consider that when it comes to high school football coaches, aka makers of men, that’s the situation they’re all in on what’s becoming a daily basis.
It’s not right that our local coaches have to walk around on egg shells. Yet that’s exactly what they’re doing these days, and that’s a big reason why most of the ones I’ve talked to have at some point mentioned getting out of the profession.
Who would it cost most if Jim Singiser decided to only teach at Arroyo? Who would it hurt if Mike Maggiore told West Covina to keep the football field, he’s staying in the classroom. Who would be gypped if Ryan Maddox threw up his hands and said, “I’m not dealing with this anymore!” and decided to make Monrovia a 9-to-5 job?
Your kids, that’s who. The youth of our communities, that’s who. When a parent somewhere, anywhere in this Valley – I’m talking the ones with pools in their backyards to the ones with no backyards – take measures to get good men fired or forced out, it affects all of us.
Football is supposed to be fun. Playing it is supposed to be fun. Coaching it is supposed to be fun. Is it also serious? Hell, yes. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t care as much about it as we do.
We wouldn’t let it be jammed down our throats by this newspaper, multiple websites and ESPN.
Clearly, however, it’s not as fun as it used to be. You know, like back in the days when football coaches weren’t questioned for every move and they didn’t have snipers in the stands ready to fire at the first sign of a perceived slight.
We can learn a lot from the past. For instance, there was a time not too long ago when coaches stayed in their positions for longer than it takes this year’s freshman class to become seniors. There used to be a time when school administrations weren’t so scared of a rock breaking the glass house.
Perhaps it’s time for all parents and administrators to enjoy a much-needed history lesson.