FITZGERALD - One of my favorite clich/s about the coaching profession is, "there are two kinds of coaches; those who have been fired and those who are going to be." It seems to be accurate.
When the powers-that-be decide that a coach needs to go, won/loss records and region championships get thrown into the garbage can with yesterday's newspaper.
Think about how many times it has happened locally. In 1997 Charles Winslette led the Tift County Blue Devils to the AAAA state championship game. While it's true the Devils came up short, it was the team's best finish since 1983. The next year, Winslette's Tift County team finished 6-5 and the coach was packing his bags.
I realize that officially, Winslette was not dismissed. But nobody seemed to work real hard to keep him around.
In Adel two seasons ago, Michael Pollock returned the Cook High Hornets to the Georgia Dome for the second consecutive year. They fell to Americus and ended the season with a record of 13-1 and the Region 2-AA championship to show for their efforts. The next year Pollock made some changes that ultimately proved to be his undoing as the Hornets went 6-5. Pollock was told to make some more changes and he decided it was time to go. Again, he wasn't fired, but the folks in Adel weren't exactly clinging to his ankles when he left.
I understand that once a team, school or community gets a taste of success, they want it over and over. I recall a friend who coaches at Thomas County Central saying that after the Yellow Jackets won their third state title, the coaches weren't off the field before somebody asked "what about next year?"
And I suppose that's fair, as a winning attitude can become infectious. But sometimes a little patience is needed.
We have seen our fair share of that as well. The Tift County Blue Devils would love a 6-5 record as it has been since 1998 that the Devils have had a record above .500, and perhaps it will happen next year. Another local team, the Colquitt County Packers, once a power in the state and the only team that regularly defeated the always powerful Valdosta Wildcats, has not advanced past the first round of playoffs since former head coach Jim Hughes retired.
And the current coaches of these two teams remain in place, and that's fine as long as efforts are being made to improve.
Which is what surprised me about the situation in Fitzgerald. It was announced this past weekend that first-year Hurricane head coach Robby Robinson would not be returning next year. Robinson led the Hurricanes back to the playoffs, advancing to the second round, which is one game farther than the 2002 Fitzgerald team. The program appears to be in decent shape.
The question of course is why did this happen? Was it a case of personality conflicts or bad chemistry? My guess is yes and yes.
Robinson's comment that the town of Fitzgerald wasn't "big enough for two head coaches" rings of the ghost of "Robby past," but he wouldn't elaborate. Which was smart. Obviously Robinson is a good coach, for in just one year he took a team that was not as experienced as the previous year's squad and played one more game. And don't misunderstand, this is not to say that Robby Pruitt is not a good coach, for he has almost as many state championship rings as he has fingers. Robinson simply did a little better this year.
We'll probably never really know what happened to cause Robinson to leave, just like we'll never know the exact details of the conversation between Dan Reeves and Arthur Blank. Coaches, administrators and even owners tend to keep that info held close to the chest.
A bright note would be the timing of this parting of the ways. Robinson has plenty of time to sign on with someone else, which he undoubtedly will. And Fitzgerald has time to get someone in place before spring drills commence, therefore not hampering the progress of the program or its players.
However, I'm not sure that the new guy should buy a house for a while.
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