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Like it or not, Vincent made the right choice

You had to know it was coming, but just not now. When former Greenville High School athletic director and head football coach Bryant Vincent decided to resign Sunday and take the same position at Spanish Fort High School in Baldwin County, I immediately knew the backlash would be bad.

But before you harshly judge Vincent for his decision to leave, first look at all the facts.

When Vincent first arrived in Greenville, he pledged he was going to bring back the winning, the intensity and the championships of Tiger past.

Despite coming off consecutive 1-9 seasons, Vincent truly believed with the right work regimen and dedication, Greenville could begin to win immediately.

Following the Tigers' losses to Highland Home in the spring game and to Luverne in the fall jamboree game last season, I doubted Vincent.

I was wrong.

As I sat in his office the week of the Georgiana game last year, Vincent told me if the Tigers could get through the first game, there would be a good chance they would be 3-0 going in to the Eufaula game.

He was right.

He told me if the team could stand toe-to-toe with Eufaula without backing down, win or lose, they would have a great shot at making the playoffs and maybe even make a run deep into the playoffs.

He was right.

Vincent believed in his players, his coaches and himself from the first time he stepped on campus and it showed in the end.

Before Vincent and Butler County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney arrived, Greenville football was a shell of what it used to be.

Now, it is as strong as ever.

The kids now believe they can win and the community is behind them 100 percent.

Because of Vincent, facilities and equipment have been updated and will continue to be updated for years to come.

Although people talked about building a football stadium at Greenville High School from the day it was built, that talk never amounted to anything until Vincent stepped on campus.

Now, a plan is underway that could produce a complete football stadium at the high school by 2010.

While Vincent has done anything and everything to turn Greenville athletics around, the timing around his decision to leave has been extremely poor.

But then again, when opportunity comes calling, it rarely makes appointments.

The deal Spanish Fort presented Vincent was lucrative.

And when I say lucrative, I mean LUCRATIVE.

It had to be to lure away a top-notch coach during this time of year, and it was.

Vincent said he had several offers made to him following the 2006 season but did not truly consider any of them until the Spanish Fort faithful came calling and I, for one, believe him.

I know this decision was equally hard on Vincent as it was his team and the administration.

Vincent loved his players and this community and I have no doubt that he will always cherish his first job as a head coach.

When Vincent first arrived in Greenville in 2006, he made a pledge to his team that he would take care of them.

And he did.

When he married wife Holli 10 years prior to arriving in Greenville, he also made a vow to take care of her.

And it is his team of Holli and sons Brady and Bret that he must first take care.

I can understand why Vincent would leave and I can also understand why the community, players and administration would be upset at his departure.

But if you truly appreciated what transpired over the last year and you truly cared about Vincent and his team, you will now wish Vincent well in his future endeavors and you will get behind a team that needs community support more than ever.

With less than three months to go before the kickoff with Georgiana, Greenville will be looking for its fourth coach in two years and that is not an easy thing to do.

And finding a replacement for Vincent will be equally as hard.

The obvious choice to replace Vincent would be defensive coordinator Ernest Hill, but it now appears Hill, along with Matthew Wells, will be going along with Vincent.

Another good choice to replace Vincent would be Brantley's David Lowery.

Lowery has consistently been a force to be reckoned with in Class 1A and his Bulldogs are favorites to play in Birmingham almost every year.

There are also many quality assistant coaches across the state, just like Vincent was, but I would hope the Tigers would go looking for a proven head coach who has proven he can win.

Whoever the new coach is, it is time to move on.

For the players, for the school and for the community, it is time to begin a new chapter in Greenville Tiger football.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor and can be reached by phone at 334-382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 334-382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com.