David Mitchell commentary: It will be tough for Carver to replace Dell McGee

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 6, 2013 

Carver High principal Christopher Lindsey is facing a difficult task.

As he sifts through resumes and recommendations, searching for the man that will take over the head coaching position recently vacated by the highly successful Dell McGee, he is asking himself a handful of very important questions.

How do you replace a man who put together the most successful era in the program's history, winning 88 games over eight seasons? How do you replace a man who gave it a state championship in 2007 and six consecutive region championships? How do you replace a man who helped elevate the Tigers' record over .500 for the first time since 1971?

More importantly, though, he is asking how do you replace a man who meant more to his players than just teaching them how to play football.

It's been said by many players, former players and colleagues that McGee was a father figure of sorts to many of his athletes, especially those who came from families without a man in the house.

He became a disciplinarian, a guide and a set of ears for anyone who needed someone to talk to.

That's not to say he can't still be that for the guys at Carver despite taking a new position at Auburn University. As he said to me when last I spoke to him, his phone number isn't going to change.

But what Lindsey must look for in his replacement is a man who can embrace all those same roles.

McGee admitted that when he began coaching, he didn't fully comprehend the expectations off the field. Simply knowing football and how to get the best out of your athletes on the field doesn't cover the requirements of this job.

"There's just so much involvement when you're the head coach, especially in the type of school with the type of kids that you deal with here," McGee said in an earlier interview. "You have to wear a lot of different hats. And it's daily. It wasn't something that you could handle once in a month."

In time, McGee grew into the role and performed it magnificently, so much so that replacing him might be a little like introducing a step-dad into a new home.

It might be difficult for players to accept the new way of doing business. It might be difficult for them to accept the coach's advice. He's not their "real" coach, after all.

It won't be easy for the man who takes over McGee's seat to quickly convince his players that he can be that same person. That's why it is so important that the one hired be up to the task.

It's clear that Carver is at a crossroads. It isn't that it doesn't have immense talent on the football field, because it does. But what happens on the field is only a small portion of the guidance of the football team.

The Tigers are replacing a coach, teacher and father, and it takes a certain type of person to handle those responsibilities.

David Mitchell, 706-571-8571, dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.com. Follow David on Twitter@leprepsports.

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