By Joe Torosian
“Sometimes when I wake up in Milagro, I want to scream.”—Ruby Archuleta
Right off the Top: What happens in the Rio Hondo League next football season? Will San Marino, Monrovia, South Pasadena and La Canada get two byes during league play?
Can anyone, honestly, see Blair and Temple City fielding competitive teams? Or competitive teams when league play starts?
I’ve never had one opinion when it comes to transfers, but two.
It’s not about winning; it’s about playing football safely. When you have a coaching change every year or have had six coaches in the last ten years…I’ll tell you flat out, your program is not safe.
And if you are a fan, booster or parent…before you blame the coaches…take a long look at your administration and your school district.
I’m not against schools dropping football…I’m not against schools dropping down to eight-man football…but I am against a revolving door on the sidelines.
I like walk-on coaches, but when a program/school is hiring a string of walk-on coaches, one after another, after another, after another…it’s time to shut it down.
Scenarios like that not only produce bad football, but they raise the risk of injury…and a bad injury at a school that has patched-worked its program for years…hurts good football programs and schools striving to do things right.
If I was at Temple City and wanted a football experience as a player, or as a parent wanting it for my son, I’d get the heck out. I’d look for someplace to go…If football is important–I believe football is. Just like the arts, but that’s another column–then it is time to explore options.
I think transferring in the hopes of earning a scholarship is ridiculous. The world is connected these days, and if you have the grades and talent, you’ll be found.
Ten years ago I had a conversation with a coach about what it meant to him, when he was young, to play for the hometown team.
“Joe, I wanted to play for my high school. I wanted to play for my hometown. I never thought of transferring someplace else.”
I think that attitude still exists…maybe it doesn’t…and if it doesn’t, I want to believe it can exist again.
When I was young, I played basketball at El Monte…I loved putting on the jersey with El Monte across the chest. It was the school of my hometown…It was the school my family went to…It meant something to me…Years later, when playing pick-up basketball around the valley, I’d wear my old El Monte practice jersey. Not because it had my last name on the back but because it had El Monte stitched across the front.
I was a screw-up in high school. Some people shine in high school and then screw-up in life…I was the person who screwed up in high school and has come to have a blessed life.
I don’t think anyone knows this; I don’t believe I’ve ever written about it or told the MVS staff…but at the end of my junior year, I almost transferred to Temple City.
The thinking was to give me a fresh start academically and who wouldn’t want to play basketball at a school with a great football team. I had the long hair, the long-range jump-shot, I could have been the TC version of Pete Maravich.
I probably should have done it…but what outweighed everything…what made the decision not to go…was El Monte High School and playing basketball for the Lions.
There was no way I could leave El Monte…Besides everybody in Temple City in those days seemed to have blonde hair…I would never have fit in.
It’s not your whole life. Football for 99% of us belongs to the “Fat Guys” after high school…So it should be experienced when the opportunity is there.
But what are you going to do if you are at a school that is always in transition? That’s the dilemma if you’re at Temple City and El Monte these days. It has been the dilemma for places like Glendale and Hoover for decades.
San Marino was in this boat a few years ago…They invested in a quality coach, gave him time to build and a miracle has happened. Ten years ago the Los Angeles Times featured the Titans program as an example of the changing demographics in the San Gabriel Valley.
But the commitment by the administration/school district/parents brought about a revival.
If you are a parent of a football player in Temple City you’d be foolish to allow the school/district to go out and hire another walk-on coach without getting involved. While there are and have been great walk-on coaches, they generally last a year, maybe two…and then you’re back to square one again.
The walk-on is not going to be a program builder. The walk-on is a gap filler.
Parents need to ask questions. They need to ask if there’s a long-term plan. If there isn’t, and football is an experience you son desires, then look at your options.
Note to Temple City: If there is no long-term plan or one desired, then do the bold thing–which would be the right thing–and DROP the program. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Is there a remedy?
I’d find somebody on campus, or get somebody on campus as a teacher, with a passion for football who would commit to a five-year term…And then I’d make sure, as an administration, I consistently had the coach’s back…Never give the appearance to the media, the boosters, the faculty, the students or the parents that there is any space between the administration and the football program.
I keep hearing the name, Riley Saxon…That would be a good hire, but I’d tell him not to do it if he asked me…Not without some extraordinary commitment from the administration.
I’d look to Randy Backus…who I assume has no interest…but if Backus sought my opinion (he never would, I can’t even get him to read my book), I’d tell him not to do it…He’s been through that hell already.
It would be awesome to see the Prodigal; Mike Mooney come back…But it would also be awesome if Abe Lincoln came back to be President…Neither is going to happen.
Temple City is in a bind…High-tier walk-on coaches (they do exist) would be suspicious of support…Lower-end walk-on coaches, with little experience and looking to make a name for themselves before exiting, are way too risky.
I remember the e-mails I got back in 2009 telling me how awful Anthony White was…White, after an incredible run at Buena Park, looks like Vince Lombardi right now.
In the end…If there’s not a commitment from the top…not a passion for it (which is more than alright…times change)…then drop the program.
Now let the slings and arrows fly…
Midbits (same as ‘Tidbits’)
Midbits: Did you learn your Roman Numerals in school or through the Super Bowl?
Midbits: Steve Garvey should be in the Hall of Fame…Keith Hernandez as well…Jeff Bagwell, great player, got fat when everybody was getting fat. Small stadiums, expansion…roids….
Midbits: Pitching prospect traded for a second baseman…Pedro Martinez to the Expos for Delino DeShields…Oh, wait…you mean Jose DeLeon to the Tampa Rays for Logan Forsythe?
Midbits: Was my “Rodgersry” wrong during the playoffs? “Aaron Rodgers full of grace…blessed are thee among quarterbacks…and the fruit of thy post-season play…”
Midbits: Go Patriots!
The Dude abides…
Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” available through amazon.com …and “The Dead Bug Tales” available this fall.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joet13b