Day 6 and the ship is still up right.
There’s a new captain and a new course correction for the Maryville College football team, but the change has been, if not seamless, at least as smooth as a post Signing Day coaching change can be reasonably expected to go.
When head coach Mike Rader and defensive coordinator Scott Brumett departed for positions on the staff at alma mater East Tennessee State University, it could have been the first stone out in a landslide that erased the bulk of what had been built in claiming two conference titles, a showdown to play for a third and the Scots first postseason appearance in two generations.
It’s hard to blame Rader and Brumett. Few things would have the allure and power as the offer they got. This wasn’t Lane Kiffin leaving Knoxville amidst the smoke of burning bedding. This was that true one and only chance — join the staff of Carl Torbush and become part of the resurrection of the Buc program that was killed out from underneath them a decade ago.
It didn’t surprise anyone that ETSU came calling at Maryville and talked to that successful coaching dynamic proving its success in Division 3. It won’t surprise anyone for Rader and Brumett to be tagged as the coordinators or head coach in waiting on the ETSU staff before a season or two has gone by. The only surprise was the timing. Wether it was ETSU being unprepared to offer the expanding staff slots in December or a design to get MC past Signing Day, any blame will fall on the Bucs, and Maryville has its chance in September to get any remaining animosity out of its system during the visit to Johnson City.
When MC does roll in to the JC, it’ll be under a Maryville guy in Shaun Hayes.
As head coach No. 29 for all of six days now, Hayes has navigated the transition in a manner that could surprise the outsider and reassure the insider. The remaining assistant coaches are on board and adjusting some roles. Search for a new DC and offensive assistant are underway. Team enthusiastic and no recruiting casualties. That can change over the summer, but there are always returners who don’t return and recruits that don’t show in Division 3.
It’s hard to see the kid from Rutledge that first arrived at Maryville in the fall of 2001. It isn’t hard to see the experience he’s gained in 13 seasons as player and assistant. Hayes has ties to all three MC coaches of this millennium having played for Phil Wilkes, played and later coached for Tony Ierulli, and until Wednesday, had been a key portion of the Scots offensive brain trust under Rader.
He’s seen the tears following a winless season. He’s seen a bus explode with cheers confirming a conference title. What the limits of off-season and spring training won’t show is if he can avoid any of the former and lead Maryville College to more of the latter.
The first little indicators will be found this week in the door just past the head coach’s office that leads into the newly renovated weight room in the Cooper Athletic Center. It’s rung near continuous the last three Februarys with football Scots at work under the direction of Hayes’ former officemate, strength and offensive line coach Phillip Bailey. That ring of weights over the music is the offseason measure of the team’s inspiration and dedication for the fall ahead. It’s a measure of the team’s core reaction and intention going into a new season under their new coach.
So far the ship is still up right and nicely making waves.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times, who enjoys reading comments posted to this column at thedailytimes.com