Randy Smith: Grider Says No To Coahulla Creek

Friday, December 13, 2013 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

After an apparent misunderstanding about payment compensation from the school’s booster club, former South Pittsburg coach Vic Grider has decided not to take the job as the new head football coach at Coahulla Creek High School.

Grider had accepted the position on Monday and was introduced to the team at the Colts’ annual football banquet that night, but after a phone conversation with Whitfield County's Superintendent of Schools, Judy Gilreath, and an attorney for the school system on Thursday afternoon, Grider turned the job down.

“This is an unfortunate turn of events for the administration at Coahulla Creek,” principal Dr. Stanley Stewart said on Friday morning. “Now we have to go back and look at the other applications all over again.”

The misunderstanding stemmed from additional pay compensation that had been secured from boosters and businesses in the school community. This is a common practice in many school systems in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and other states as well, but not in Whitfield County. After being advised by a county attorney, Ms. Gilreath told Grider he would receive just what the State of Georgia and Whitfield County would offer anyone with his teaching experience and educational levels, in addition to the same $7,500 supplement offered to every other head football coach in Whitfield County.

“I am truly disappointed,” Grider told me this morning. “I was so excited because the Coahulla Creek job had so much potential. Dr. Stewart was great to work with and I certainly have no hard feelings, but something just didn’t feel right.”

While there are coaches in Georgia making a six-figure salary, a good portion of that money comes from booster clubs. According to unnamed sources, Catoosa County in north Georgia also refuses to allow booster clubs to compensate coaches’ pay.

A man once told me many years ago, “A school is only as strong as its football program.” At first I thought that was an absurd statement. Through the years, however, I have come to believe there is a lot of truth in that statement. While I have always been a strong supporter of academics, I truly believe that the performance of your football team at the beginning of the school year sets the tone for the entire year. If it isn’t very important, then why do thousands of fans flock to community stadiums every Friday night to support their teams?

I heard something else interesting this morning: “It’s easy to tell which schools pay their head coaches very well. They’re all playing at the Georgia Dome this weekend.”

Thus, the search begins anew for a new head football coach at Coahulla Creek; the 3-year-old high school with state of the art facilities and equipment. They will eventually get a quality coach to lead their young program, but it will take some time. Setting their sights high and selecting Vic Grider was a real big deal for the school, even getting him to just come and visit was a real coup.  When Grider accepted, the Colts administration, students and faculty quickly became excited about the possibilities.

It took just four days for reality to set in - the reality that in some eyes, politics is bigger than high school football.  

rsmithsports@comcast.net

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Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).


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