Be thankful for what you have on the sideline
Sometime just after the first Christmas commercial and before Black Friday, sports writers brace themselves for the first push of the football coaching carousel.
I was reading away this year when Wife let loose with her shock on the first commercial promoting holiday shopping airing before Halloween. I mumbled something in acknowledgment, finished my page, marked the place and haven’t been able to open the book back up yet.
Since then, the speculation on Derek Dooley’s tenure at UT reached the crescendo and a few days after the media choir — correctly to be sure — predicted his imminent end across the river, the deed was done. It still left a few weeks of package building and updating and constant alert status for an announcement.
To Dooley-ize Dooley, the East Tennessee media — and The Daily Times and especially our digital brethren at http://Volquest.com — were like the Germans, knowing the Allies were coming for the beach and not wanting to get caught looking for Rommel at the moment the landing craft appeared.
Being on alert that long gets a bit grinding.
The high school ranks are always something we monitor carefully, not so much to be the first one with a tweet on an announcement of a change, but because we want to provide our readers an in-depth look at the coach and decision. Many times a high school change hits much closer to home because parents have more direct contact through their own children or their friends and feel an immediate impact in the school’s community.
David Gregory’s decision to accept an offer in his native Mississippi leaves a hole for William Blount to fill, but for anyone that’s spent anytime with Gregory and hasn’t heard a Jimmy Buffett song — or at least a later Kenny Chesney bit — strumming in the mental background of his head has missed obvious love of the coast that the coach couldn’t escape any more than he could wash away that deep water tan.
It’s hard to be mad for long at such a homecoming.
Vol fans may not extend that sentiment to Lane Kiffin, but in that case, the resentment is more about finding out about the other woman as the moving truck arrived. There’s a lot to be said for breaking up the right way.
But today, was a day to be thankful for what you have.
That doesn’t always come down to wins and losses.
There’s a lot to be said for the coach who does things the right way and has the players best interest in mind— both on and off the field. Blount County is blessed in that regard be it Heritage or Maryville Alcoa or William Blount.
Most readers wouldn’t have noticed that John Gagliardi announced his retirement this week from D3 St. John’s University. “John,” as he insists his players call him, has been coaching for 60 years at that small college in Minnesota. His practices are all no-contact, the players train in the offseason to their own schedule and no practice lasts longer than 90 minutes for the nonscholarship athletes, who to him, are students before they are athletes.
But with that noncompetitive and backwards standard, Gagliardi has won three national championships and 489 games — more than Joe Paterno, more than Bobby Bowden and more than Bear Bryant.
There’ll be more departures across the landscape, more college than prep — this year. There always are.
The arrivals will begin. They always do.
But before you wish for more, take a look at what you have already.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted to this column at http://thedailytimes.com