Last week Central High football coach Woodrow Lowe was relieved of his duties.
Less than a month shy of his 60th birthday, Lowe was out.
Phenix City interim superintendent Rod Hinton explained it this way: “Football is more than X’s and O’s. It’s so much more. It’s very complicated. All the requirements, managing the coaches and the program that goes through three schools. It’s a complex process now. We felt like we needed to make some changes that the program needed.”
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Hinton is an old coach. He knows what should and should not happen in a locker room and on the field.
But so should Lowe.
If Lowe’s firing is about football — and it seems to be because he has been offered a contract to continue as a physical education teacher — it does not make sense.
There is no player or coach from Phenix City who has seen or done more over four decades of competitive football.
He was a three-time, All-America player at the University of Alabama. The only Bear Bryant-coached player to hold that distinction. He is in the College Football Hall of Fame.
He played 11 seasons in the National Football League for one team — the San Diego Chargers. He was named to the Chargers 50th anniversary team.
He is in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
He has coached at every level from high school assistant to six years as an NFL assistant.
Not all who can do it well can coach the game. And, at times, Lowe has struggled as a coach.
Lowe was 12-19 in three seasons at Smiths Station. They fired him in 2008. That is understandable — and the folks at Smiths Station could and did justify it.
Even on the high school level, it is about winning.
Which brings us to Central.
And over the last four seasons, Lowe has gone 33-13 at Central. He has been in the Alabama High School playoffs three of his four seasons, making the 6A state semifinals in 2011. The Red Devils missed the playoffs last year.
“You always want to win football games. It was much more than that, though,” Hinton said. “... There are a lot of changes that we need to make to maximize the potential.”
Lowe was moving the most talented of his players to the next level. That’s maximizing potential. He had an off-the-field program that exposed players to the community. That’s maximizing potential.
On it’s face, this decision makes no sense.
Lowe — a 1972 Central High grad — has brought honor and glory to his alma mater and his hometown at every turn.
Bear Bryant came back to Alabama in the 1950s when mama called. Mama called Lowe home four years ago, and he had won way more than he has lost.
As Lowe found out last week, Phenix City can be one tough mama.