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LC football: Still a plum job?

By Walter Geiger On the morning of Dec. 14, 2013, Lamar County football fans were on top of the world. Throngs of them were on their way to the Georgia Dome to see the Trojans play in a state championship for the first time in school history. The Trojans lost that game 14-7 but the future looked bright. Many thought the program was on the doorstep of being a dynasty. Now, just over three years later, the Dome is being demolished. In the three seasons culminating in that title game, Lamar went 38-3-1. In the three since, it has nosedived to 21-12-1, a respectable record but not dynastic. LC has had four coaches over the last six seasons. The most recent, Bryan Love, has accepted the job at Woodland High School in Henry County after only one season here in which his team went 6-5. Given the opportunity to comment on his departure, Love declined as did school board chairman Danny Turner. Lamar’s seniors this fall will be working under their third coach in four years. Such turnover makes it hard to maintain continuity. Football teams without continuity can struggle. So, why the revolving door at the head coach’s office? Lamar, with its shining new facilities and improving system, was once seen as a plum job for a coach. Now, not everyone thinks so. One former LC head coach, who asked not to be identified for obvious reasons, said those in the coaching community now cast wary eyes upon the local system. ’I know for a fact that two of the last four coaches did not want to leave but there was an administrative situation that made those two feel like they had to go or they were going to get forced to. The other two never had intentions of being there long. The conversation among coaches now is ‘˜why have they had four coaches in five years?’. When you make a couple of hires for short term situations it can really set the program back. There is just no consistency. The vibe at this point is there are some black-white issues going and that scares the hell out of people,’ the coach said. Lamar County is currently advertising its vacant position as a head coaching job only. Love also served as athletic director. The job posting notes that the new coach will be expected to reside in Lamar County. That has not always been the case with LC coaches. School superintendent Dr. Jute Wilson is firm in his contention that the LC job is a coveted one and the program is still strong. ’I don’t think it has lost any luster at all. We have already received a large number of quality applicants from several states. Our record, eight straight seasons as region champion or runner-up, speaks for itself. Our facilities are second to none in Class AA and we are building a new high school,’ Dr. Wilson countered. He touted great support from the school board and noted there have already been 90 head coaching vacancies in Georgia this year. ’It is becoming a very transient job. We had quality applicants last time. In fact, the AJC ranked our hire last year as the best in the state. What we are looking for now is stability,’ he continued. The newly-nomadic nature of coaches is the reason for the requirement that whomever gets the job this time must live here in the community. ’High profile, highly sought after coaches are a greater flight risk. We are considering all applicants but we are looking for someone who wants to plant roots here and immerse themselves in the community. One thing we have stressed in our hiring practices the ‘˜fit’. ’We have a list of desired attributes and qualifications but what we really want is to hire professionals who ‘˜fit’ the needs of the students of Lamar County. That may or may not include head coaching experience or championships,’ Dr. Wilson said. The system is currently negotiating Love’s release so he can move on. LC also hopes to bring its new coach in early and is working out athletic director responsibilities, depending on Love’s departure date. Some or all of those responsibilities could later be assigned to the new hire, depending on his experience level. LCHS principal Dr. David Boland is working all that out. ’With his experience as an athletic director, Dr. Boland has a firm grasp on what is needed and will ensure all duties are covered,’ Dr. Wilson concluded. UPDATE: Dr. Wilson told the Barnesville Rotary Club Tuesday that the coaching job has attracted over 100 applicants from 10 states.

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