Analysis: Much ado about nothing

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Tom Hale had every right to pursue the Pulaski County job. Carroll County is fortunate it didn't pan out.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

Don’t begrudge Tom Hale for looking.

Pulaski County turned to one of its former players, Todd Jones of Essex High School, to fill its vacant head football coaching position. Nobody knows how close Carroll County came to losing its coach, Tom Hale, who interviewed for the position, but fortunately, the search for the Cavaliers' next coach ended before it began.

Carroll County could easily have found itself in the predicament in which Essex finds itself now – looking for a head coach two weeks before the start of two-a-days. But you can’t blame Hale for trying, and for obvious reasons:

Pulaski County has a rich football tradition. It is one of the largest schools in Region IV. There are athletes out the yang. The Cougars’ facilities are first-class. Hale spent 14 seasons there as an assistant under the much-revered Joel Hicks.

And perhaps the biggest attraction would be the fact that the school is a stone’s throw away from Hale’s home in Dublin.

I would have found it downright odd if he hadn’t applied.

The timing would have been awful, but Hale couldn’t help the timing. When a coach resigns in late June, as did former PC coach Jack Turner, and the administration decides not to promote from within, and time is needed to advertise the position, and more time needed to collect and review applications, then to conduct interviews and then to make a decision, some school somewhere was going to be left in a pickle when hiring time came.

Sounds like I’m campaigning retroactively for Hale to get the job. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Hale and Pulaski County seem like a perfect fit. But so is Hale and Carroll County.

I hear from time to time about how the Cavaliers need to open things up on offense. How they run the same plays. How the wing-T is boring.

You know what else is boring? Three-point-six wins per season, Carroll’s average in the program’s first 30 years, before Hale’s arrival.

Part of the beauty of the wing-T is that a lot of the plays look alike. Another part of the beauty is that short-legged country boys with an undersized offensive line can be successful or at least competitive on a weekly basis while facing bigger, faster opponents.

Carroll County has had just two losing records during Hale’s 11 years in Hillsville. The Cavaliers had posted just seven winning seasons the previous 30 years.

The school had its first 10-win season, notched its first playoff win and has been a district title contender in the last two weeks of the season four times in the last 11 years.

Credit Hale and his staff for that.

Hale’s kids work their tails off. They are extremely well-disciplined. They are always prepared. And the Cavaliers have won more than their share of games in the locker room at halftime. All of that starts somewhere.

Mava Vass, my 12th-grade English teacher, was one of the finest instructors I ever knew, at any level of my education. And I knew some really, really good ones.

By her mere persona Mrs. Vass could influence you to do better than you thought you were capable of doing – sometimes better than you actually were capable of doing – because you didn't want to let her down. 

But as valuable as Mava Vass was to Carroll County High School, I don't think anyone outside of a very small circle of need-to-knows would have ever had an inkling if she had applied for a job as an English teacher in another school district.

After all, stadiums aren't filled with people by the thousands at $5 a head to watch a group of students dissect Death of a Salesman.

Coaches, especially football coaches, don’t have the luxury of anonymity. Hale looked outside for a position that may have been a better fit for any number of reasons.

Carroll County is lucky it just didn’t work out.