The Peterson Principle 1/16/12

It started as soon as the season ended in mid November. Glendale Coach Al Eberhart stepped down and was eventually replaced by long time area assistant John Tuttle.

Nobody knew it at the time but Eberhart was the first of a slew of resignations of high school football coaches in the area.

Then at the Southeast Division final we spoke to a coach in the Southeast who filled us in on four more resignations that were imminent in the Del Rio League. And sure enough all of them resigned in the next week.

We were aware of Santa Fe Coach Jack Mahlstede calling it a career but then Walter Scott at Whittier, Ramon Juarez at Pioneer and Rick Zepeda at El Rancho also turned in their headsets. That was five coaches down and the season hadn’t even been over for two weeks.

But that was small potatoes compared to what happened last week. It started Monday with Darryl Thomas stepping down after 15 years at Covina. From there they started to fall like dominoes. By the time the week had ended five more coaches had joined Thomas in resigning bringing the total to 11 so far this off season.  

Bob Burt at Wilson, Ben Negrete at Schurr, Steve Bogan at South Hills, Bonita’s Eric Podley, Matt Koffler at Rosemead and James Wilson at Mt. View had all announced that they weren’t returning as coach.    

We hear the rumors about coaches leaving after every season. For the last several years we had a running joke with Koffler that he was headed everywhere from USC to the Oakland Raiders. 

There are always coaching changes here and there in the off season but nothing as significant as what we have seen this year.

The reasons given are usually the same – the need to spend more time with family being the main reason – but with the number of coaches calling it this week you know that it’s more than that.

Long hours, little support from administration, budget constraints and small compensation make it more difficult for high school football coaches.

“Seeing these kids celebrate like they are tonight makes it all worth it,” said Monrovia assistant Mike Minter at the Wildcats’ championship celebration. “It’s all about the kids. But sometimes it’s hard. The long hours you put in, little support, it’s tough.”

We heard from two local coaches last summer who said there was no money in the budget to purchase new footballs and helmets. One said he had two footballs to work with for the entire season.

Arroyo Coach Jim Singiser sounded off this week after the high number of resignations. 

Just a portion of Singiser’s comments: “We see these kids 3-4 hours a day. We have more contact with them than nearly anyone else in their life. No one gets rich coaching…the kid at Hotdog on a Stick makes more than a head coach. Try and find someone else that puts the needs of 60 kids ahead of many of the needs of their own family.”

Diamond Ranch Coach Roddy Layton can relate to the time spent and the pressures of coaching as well.

“There are high demands year round, little pay, high expectations, and most on the coach. People forget the player who is 16 isn’t just focused on football. He has school, girls, other sports and trying to fit in with peers, etc. So not all of them want to be out year round but as a coach if you’re not out there year round you feel like you’re behind and your commitment as a coach is questioned,” Layton said.

“Some schools with budget to support several coaches won’t suffer as much but schools with one coach on campus will force that one coach to try to do it all and eventually tire out. I believe each coach still enjoys coaching and loves his players but has to sacrifice either football or continue to sacrifice family time,” he added.

The coaches and the football programs need support, financially and otherwise, – from the administration, the parents and the community. Not next year, not next month, but now. Before there are no more coaches or programs to support.

That’s my principle.

Tim can be reached at

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