We’ve had a couple letters to the editor commenting on and lauding the decision to name Washington High School’s Athletic Complex after Jim Scanlan, who started the football program at the school in 1965. He and his assistants laid the foundation for the football program at the school, and along the way taught discipline, leadership, teamwork, respect to others, a work ethic and sportsmanship. One of the letter writers termed the Scanlan era as the “Golden Age” of sports at WHS. That it was!
Another letter writer reminded all of us that coaches play an important role in preparing youths to face up to challenges when they become adults.
Coaching is a perilous career. It’s not for the meek. You produce or you are gone. Coaches know that. They accept that fact. Coaching on the high school level has a bit more security than on the college, university or professional levels. On the higher levels we just mentioned, job security is earned by winning. Losers are not tolerated.
One of the toughest aspects of coaching on the high school level is putting up with parents, who can’t understand why their offsprings aren’t starters on teams or aren’t given more playing time. They don’t understand that coaches field teams that in their judgments are composed of the best skilled players. We feel sorry for the sons and daughters of complaining parents. It can be an embarrassment for them to know that their parents complained to a coach.
Coaches learn to live in a world where they can be surrounded by constant criticism and disrespect. This is especially true on the higher coaching levels.
We read with interest what the two major newspapers in Tennessee had to say after Missouri defeated the Vols, 51-48, in four overtimes last Saturday at Knoxville. Tennessee is 0-6 in SEC play this season under Coach Derek Dooley, who must be packing his bags.
The Sunday News Sentinel in Knoxville said, “A coach can’t be 0-6 in the SEC in his third season at UT and expect a fourth.” The headline above the commentary by John Adams said, “No Doubt Now; It’s Time for a Change.” The sports columnist wrote that Dooley should be fired immediately and the university should “begin the search for a new coach.”
The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville also called for the firing of Dooley. “Overtime Meltdown Shows Dooley Must Go — and Soon.” David Climer of The Tennessean wrote this: “After Tennessee lost to Missouri 51-48 in four overtimes on Saturday, there was the unmistakable sense that Dooley’s time as Vols coach also expired. It’s time for a change. Even at the cost of a $5 million buyout, UT simply can’t afford to keep Dooley around for a fourth season.”
And so that’s the way it goes in coaching at a high level. You win, you stay. You lose, you go.
It must be mentioned the high level coaches make a lot of money. They can be the highest paid individual in a state among all public employees if at a public college or university. Coach Gary Pinkel makes more than Gov. Jay Nixon. A high level coach’s income is padded with fees for endorsements and television and radio shows, and other perks. If the Vols fire Dooley, and he will be, and he gets a $5 million buyout of his contract, he’s set for life.
High school coaches are underpaid when consideration is given to time spent at the school, teaching and coaching. They do it because they enjoy it.
It was appropriate to name the Athleic Complex at WHS after Scanlan. He left a quality mark at the school. He taught life lessons. The naming honor means that he set an example that should be remembered.