Did you ever have to scramble in the final hours to study for an exam or to complete a term paper?
If you have, then you can relate to what several local high school sports programs now face as the 2012 football season creeps ever closer.
The days when head football coaches were in place, had a staff set and playbooks assembled by early summer are slipping away. More schools have to wait until the summer months to hire coaches.
Several schools, including Redemptorist, Glen Oaks and Belaire, are still going through a hiring process 25 days before Aug. 6, the first official day of fall practice, according to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s calendar.
There are a variety of reasons for this trend. One thing is certain, it’s one trend that needs to end.
Everybody loves a winner, but when a high school has to hire its head coach so late in the preseason, the chances of fielding a winner usually decrease. There are rare exceptions to this rule. Certainly, the individual situations at each school are notable.
Take Istrouma, for example. The school was taken over by Louisiana’s Recovery School District based on poor academic performance over a number of years. Istrouma’s massive overhaul includes a change in administration and teachers. Justin Joseph was hired as head football coach in late June.
Because students who attended Istrouma have the option to go to other schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, there are questions about which student-athletes will return.
Other factors are in play at other schools. Redemptorist and Belaire had coaches in place who opted to resign to take other jobs in June. Glen Oaks waited to select its coach until its new principal was in place.
Both Belaire and Glen Oaks also were legally required to advertise their jobs before moving forward with the hiring process.
The good news is that most schools had someone in place to run a summer conditioning program, which holds things together to some degree. Some have even participated in 7-on-7 drills.
But whenever a head football coach is not in place questions undoubtedly arise. Like it or not, the message it sends is we’re not quite sure what we’re doing yet.
Skeptical parents often wait until a coach is hired before allowing their child to commit to a team.
When players don’t commit to play for a team, the number of players on the roster goes down. And when the roster is smaller, once again, the chance for success typically decreases.
“It’s tough when you’re hired after the school year ends,” said Baker’s Richard Oliver, who was hired in June. “You didn’t see the students and don’t know exactly who’s out there. So I’ve been knocking on doors.”
Coaches hired in the days ahead will likely face an uphill battle just to make sure everything, including the players, are in place when the season starts with jamborees on Aug. 23-24.
Like cramming for an exam, it’s a high risk situation. We won’t know until November what rewards there might be.