I attended the coaches clinic this weekend and was very surprised by the coaching selections for the 2017 Shrine Bowl. Please understand this is not an attack on any coach but questioning of the system to pick coaches and what the criteria is. This post has nothing to do with player selection, only the coaching staff selection system, so please keep your thoughts and posts directed toward the coaching selection process. More than questioning if a coach deserves to be selected, this post is questioning when they are selected as compared to other coaches that are also eligible to be selected.
The three coaches from the 2016 squad that were unable to participate due to the title game overlap this year have been brought back which is absolutely the correct decision. Three excellent coaches that deserve the honor although David Gentry (HC) and Kevin Gillespie (assistant) not being selected earlier for these positions was another major overlook on prior selection committees.
One of the assistant positions is slotted to Rocky White who has also coached in South Carolina. White participated in the game before playing at UNC and his father also coached in the game. White is currently the head coach at South Mecklenburg and was also the head coach at West Mecklenburg.
Two selections that have many head coaches shaking their head are Garner coach Thurman Leach and East Bladen coach Robbie Priest. Leach is a long time assistant at the Wake County school but has only four years as a head coach with a record of 44-11. Priest has been the head coach at East Bladen for five years and has a record of 45-21. It appears he has approximately twenty years in the system.
Many are wondering why Coach Reggie Lucas has not been selected previously and were very surprised that he has been passed over for another Wake County coach for the 2017 Shrine Bowl. Coach Lucas just took his Wake Forest team to their fourth 4AA title game and secured a victory. Lucas appears to have a record of 101-15 and has coached in NC for a total of 26 years from best that I can tell. Although he has not been selected to coach in the Shrine Bowl he has been selected to coach in the Army All American game and won a coach of the year honor for 4A during the clinic.
In the 2A ranks Lance Ware from Shelby is a very sensible pick with basically the same amount of time at the helm and in the system as Coach Priest. In six seasons he is 74-19 with four state titles and has improved the team’s record each of the last four seasons culminating in a 16-0 record this year. If the Shrine Bowl wants a young coach from a smaller classification it appears Coach Ware has superior accomplishments!
From the east there is a great option in 2A as well with Northeastern’s Antonio Moore! In twelve seasons Moore is 125-38 with three regional final appearances and one resulting in a state title game loss. If picking a coach from 2A and /or the eastern part of the state why was Coach Moore not at the top of the list?
There are numerous coaches with many more years as head coaches and much more impressive records that have never coached in the game than two that were selected for the next Shrine Bowl. It is totally understood that the coaches need to be spread out across the state and over the classifications to some degree which is why the coaches above were listed as like comparisons to the two selections that were noted. Should coaches not be rewarded for superior performance? When there are coaches with many more years in the system and much bigger accomplishment being passed over there is a problem! The most befuddling question is what are the criteria, if any, to be selected to the Shrine Bowl coaching staff?
Garner has had three head coaches in the game since 1997 when the legendary Hal Stewart led NC after being an assistant in 1988. His successor Nelson Smith was an assistant in 2006 and the HC in 2012 with his successor getting the nod as an assistant this coming year. Garner is a great program but it appears that there is a significant focus on their coaches being selected.
The previous head coach at East Bladen, Lennon Fisher, was selected as an assistant in 2009 and retired two years later after thirty plus years as the HC with an excellent career there. His successor is selected for the game six seasons after Fisher’s retirement. It seems strange that a coach from this school would be selected so quickly with no state title game or regional finals appearances and season records that are not better or inferior to the final six seasons of his predecessor.
All of the information I have listed came from the Team Pages at Carolina Preps website. I have not compared other Shrine Bowl coaches and their school’s selection history in the game but it seems very likely that Garner and East Bladen have done very well with coaching positions.
South Carolina’s coaches association is listed as selecting their staff while the article explains that North Carolina is picked by a group of Shriners. Why do the two states have different ways to select the coaching staffs and what is the background of the committee members selecting NC’s squad?
Something is not right here and the coaches need to come together and get some answers as how coaches with limited years of head coaching experience are being picked over coaches with similar time in the system but much better resumes or coaches with much longer and distinguished careers. There are a large number of coaches with very impressive records, deep playoff runs, and state titles the last few seasons that have been overlooked or not selected for some reason.
What are your thoughts? Who are coaches that should be selected and the reason(s)?