Friday, August 28, 2015
If you haven't seen on Twitter (follow me @theduece02 or @footballislifeblog), I'm working as a consultant/scout at a pretty prominent program now. Gone are the days of game planning by myself until the wee hours of the morning only to get waxed by 40 on Friday nights. No longer are there days where when we have a lightning delay, we have to wonder if the volleyball team will "let" us practice in the gym (yes, I'm not making this stuff up). No, I'm coaching now at a place where football is important. No, important isn't a strong enough word. Football is life! Now you know why I'm happier than a pig in slop! I have been on the job now for close to three months and things are going great and tonight, I leave my scouting duties to go up in the box and actually see our game plan come to life. I guess you could say I've been promoted. Nonetheless, I could not be more excited. Other than having to wear white, which I despise (1. I'm fat, 2. I'm messy, you get it?!), tonight will be one of the biggest stages I've ever coached upon. Now this is no state championship, nor for a district title. It is just two elite teams, in a four-quarter, slug fest that will, not only be awesome to witness, but will be awesome to coach in. Yep, I'm stoked men...I'm stoked.
In all of the above, I do have to always look over my shoulder at where I came from. I still live in my hometown, and my former team, my Alma Mater, continues to play. What is truly sad is witnessing a program you help build as a player, and a coach, deteriorate to the point of almost being non-existent. Sure, I'm happy, I'm still involved in football and I'm learning a lot coaching along side some greats, but there's a part of me that dies a bit with every Friday night loss of my hometown team. There's a piece of me that knows, that program is slipping even further into the abyss from which it has lived in for well over five decades. As a player, I was a part of the greatest run in school history. I was a part of the first winning season in 18 years at that program. I witnessed a team, that three years earlier had been a dismal 3-7, real off 13 straight wins only to fall in the state championship game. When I came back as a coach, we were a disappointing 2-8, that quickly rebounded to 6-3, then 7-4, 8-3, 7-4 seeing a four year run in the playoffs. That diminished as quickly as summer thunderstorm, being followed by 0-10, 1-9, and a string of 2-8's over the past several seasons. When you run through stuff like that, I can tell you, it gets to you. You question why are you doing this? I can't tell you how many nights I've stayed up watching film, knowing we just don't have a chance. What was sad, is we could have. No, it wasn't the fact that the kids were bad, or they didn't work, or were lazy, or we had poor coaching. What happened was nobody cared anymore. Football was being used for one thing and one thing only...money. When I was making our new schedule after the 0-10 season, I knew we weren't the team we had been several years before and we needed to lower the schedule so we could rebuild confidence. The A.D. quickly told me my schedule wasn't going to work and we could play this team or that team because "they didn't travel well". Several teams, that were two, three and even sometimes four classifications higher than us were left on the schedule, because it meant more money for athletics. What the A.D. didn't realize was you put assess in the seats with victories, not who you play. The program has suffered ever since. It has never been a presigious program, but when it was up, man did it feel great. To watch what it's become, is quite sad. Again, you sit there and wonder, "Why the hell did I put in all that time"? I often wonder if all of that was worth it.
The above leads me to my next point, and that is yes, it was all quite worth it in the end. I had a former player text me the other night when he found out I wasn't coaching anymore (he's at another school now and heard it through the grapevine). He was wondering why I left and we made small talk etc. He then said "Between you and me you were always my favorite coach". He later said "Thanks for all the time and effort you've put into me over the years, you don't realize how much it all mean having you on my side and knowing I could count on you". Yeah, it was worth it man, I just wish it didn't hurt so much though.
Anyhow, leaving has been tough, for that reason, and the fact I'm not coaching players anymore. I think I can get used to this, but I'm sure one day I'm going to want to have players I can coach, and mold and help become men, but for now, I'm going to relish my role and do the best damn job I can possibly do. Hell, that's all I've ever asked of my players, it's all anyone can really ask of anybody when it comes down to it. Good luck this season.