McKenzie supporters overstep their bounds
Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005
It was just a few weeks ago that I joked with David Kirkland about the fact that he had the longest tenure of any of the coaches within the Butler County public school system.
Now that tenure is over after a group of parents decided that McKenzie is Utopia of high school athletics.
I don't know whether the drinking water or air is bad in the southern tip of the county, but it seems a band of parents decided to go on a witch-hunt after the Tigers tasted defeat for the 13th straight time last week.
David Kirkland was the hunted.
Tuesday morning Kirkland resigned as head football coach and athletic director.
So whom did they have in mind for an adequate replacement?
It wasn't Steve Spurrier. It wasn't Lou Holtz or even his son, Skip.
The knight in shining armor to lift McKenzie out of obscurity is the junior varsity coach.
Two games into the junior varsity's season the baby Tigers were sporting a 2-0 record.
The baby Tigers were winning with the same team that plays at the varsity level because a majority of the varsity team really is junior varsity.
I would imagine those parents are second-guessing themselves today after Georgiana clobbered the Tigers Friday night.
There was no secret at the beginning of the season that McKenzie's varsity would struggle this season with just 23 players and no seniors on the squad.
Even with such a small band of players, Kirkland coached his group like they were defending state champions. There wasn't a practice that I attended that the kids didn't react and act with a positive attitude. The kids bought into Kirkland's system, but the experience just wasn't there.
But inexperience obviously was nothing but a red herring to a select few of Tiger parents.
Since they had been at practice every day, they must have seen an all-star group being held back.
I don't know what they saw, but they may have ruined the future of McKenzie football forever.
Before I came to Greenville, I remember coming to McKenzie for the first time to cover the Tigers in a state quarterfinal game. I remember finding this little Butler County school and marveling over the support it had and the nice facilities it had for a school as small as it was.
McKenzie came into that game unbeaten with its eyes looking forward to putting that championship trophy in the school's trophy case.
After playing to a stalemate with its opponent, McKenzie's dream season came to a halt in a matter of two quarters. Autaugaville rolled to an easy win.
A few months later, the Tigers lost their all-star coach and the wheels began to fall off the winning wagon.
Reading back through the Advocate's bound volumes, I've marveled over how successful McKenzie's football program has been.
That winning tradition may end up being what it is — history.
We live in a day where everything is instant. We can jump on the Internet, and so many things are available to us just through a couple keystrokes or clicks.
But there's nothing instant about building a winning football program.
It too, like Rome, is not built in a day and sometimes not even a year or even two.
Kirkland knew that McKenzie was looking at hard times ahead with such a young football team. But he also was counting down the days when those young men were soon to become experienced upperclassmen. The winning tradition in the small south Butler County school was about to be revived.
It just needed time.
Obviously that was not acceptable in McKenzie.
Sure those parents who wanted Kirkland gone were only looking out for their children with hopes of helping them succeed.
The problem is that they couldn't see that McKenzie and those kids were succeeding.
It may not have appeared on the scoreboard or in the record book, but the seed had been planted by Kirkland.
His football team won every Friday night because those kids never quit, and they played with class.
Class is something that obviously is at a premium among some in McKenzie.
I'm sure Kirkland would be more than happy to give a few pointers.
Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 383-9302 ext. 122 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.