David Mitchell: More questions than answers in Russell County coaching search

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 9, 2014 

It’s July 9. Where’s your football coach?

Eighteen of the 19 teams we cover at the Ledger-Enquirer could easily answer that question by pointing to the football field. Or the coach’s office. Or the film room.

For Russell County, though, the question is a little more complicated.

If you’re talking about Vince Wiggins, an assistant coach who is filling in as an unofficial interim while the school searches for former coach Demond McCoy’s replacement, then the answer is the same as the 18 other schools. If you’re talking about the other four assistant coaches and one community coach, the answer is the same.

They’re at workouts from 9 a.m. to noon every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

If you’re talking about the head coach, well, then your answer is as good as mine.

Which is unfortunately as good as the school’s.

“We still don’t know,” principal Ken Britford said Tuesday. “It’s all up in the air for now.”

Fifty-two days after McCoy stepped aside as coach and athletic director to take a position as an assistant principal at Russell County Middle School, the Warriors still are without a coach. By comparison, it took Central High eight days to find Jamey DuBose.

I know, I know — apples and oranges. One is a traditional football power; the other is not.

Then again, Russell County is coming off its most successful season in over a decade. It won five games last season and advanced to the state playoffs for the first time since 1998. Now is as good a time as any to build upon success and give the Warriors a chance to contend for the playoffs for the foreseeable future.

But you need a head coach to do that.

One rumored possibility from the moment the Russell County job opened up was the man who was not retained at Central just days before.

Woodrow Lowe won 33 games in four seasons with the Red Devils, advancing to the state semifinals in 2011. Who better than a man who has extensive knowledge at the highest level of the game to inspire excitement and bring another boost to the program?

Fans and reporters weren’t the only ones who had heard that rumor. Indeed, one board member confirmed most thought they had their guy.

“I think they had a person they thought would be the guy, but it fell through,” said Larry Laney, a member of the Russell County Board of Education. Asked if Lowe was who he had heard, Laney said he was. He said he didn’t know what caused things to fall through or if they had even fallen through for good.

But Lowe put a lid on that Wednesday, telling me he would have let me know if he was going to take the job.

“As far as we know, they’re interviewing candidates now, but they haven’t presented us with a name,” Laney said. “I haven’t spoken to anyone about it in a couple of weeks.”

Not even superintendent Mike Green, who has been absent from his office for nearly three weeks.

I’ve dropped by the superintendent’s office twice and called a handful of other times over that period and was told each time by his secretary that he was out for the week and would return the following Monday.

Assistant coach Wiggins admitted that it was sort of frustrating for the staff to be playing the waiting game, but noted that it is nothing new to him and the team is working as it would if it had a head coach in place.

When he took a job as coach at Jeff Davis in 2011, he wasn’t officially hired until July 18 or 19, he said.

“I’ve been through this before,” he said. “We’ve been working hard, doing 7-on-7s and just waiting on word about the hire. It’s nothing new.”

The next meeting for the school board is July 22, which is the earliest a potential coach can be officially approved. Britford said they “would hope” to have a candidate in place by then.

I should think so. If not, what is Plan B?

It’s been 52 days since Russell County began looking for its head coach. With its first game scheduled for Aug. 29, it has 50 left to find him.

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