Column: AFA's recent choices lack direction



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Fri. May 31, 2013 | John C. Cotey | Email

Column: AFA's recent choices lack direction

Chris Miller is the new football coach at Seminole High School.

And Admiral Farragut Academy — just five months after firing Miller then replacing him with a guy who has already abandoned the shipwrecked program — doesn’t have a coach at all.

You couldn’t blame Miller for finding all this to be deliciously satisfying. But I suspect the former Blue Jacket, who went to Admiral Farragut for eight years as a student, played quarterback there, planned to send his kids there and led the team to the Class 2A state final in 2011 as the coach, is too heartbroken to laugh.

Too much, anyway.

The rest of us, though?

At most places, spring football answered questions.

At Admiral Farragut, it just created them.

Mainly, um, what are you guys doing?

In a span of five months, the Blue Jackets have gone from anchors away to just, well, anchored.

No leadership.

No clue.

And after firing former Florida State linebacker Buster Davis on Thursday, or giving him his choice of resignation or whatever you want to call it, they have no coach.

How much damage this is doing to Admiral Farragut has yet to be determined. Players are starting to look elsewhere. Others who watched the 35-6 spring game loss to Berkeley Prep and read the postgame quotes from Davis about “changing the culture” — you know, of winning to whatever that was in the spring — are now reconsidering.

Not only did Admiral Farragut fire a successful coach, it replaced him with an unsuccessful coach (0-7 in his only previous year of coaching) who turned out to be even more unsuccessful by barely making it out of his first spring in St. Petersburg.

It is stunning, really, that level of administrative ineptness, because clearly firing Miller after last season, when the Blue Jackets went 8-2 and barely missed the playoffs, with absolutely no plan to replace him was poor judgment.

Unless there was plan, in which case, wow, was that a terrible plan.

Miller was the last to know he was being forced to resign, because he found it too unfathomable, even if people started whispering about it during the season while Admiral Farragut was still a postseason contender.

After all, Miller was one of them, the bluest of Blue Jackets. He had known headmaster Bob Fine since he was 10 years old, he was an alumnus, a former quarterback, a coach who took the job when no one else wanted it and turned the program into a Class 2A powerhouse and sent dozens of kids off to college.

Oh, and he was winning.


Besides, Miller says he had received an email from Fine during the season, after a homecoming win, telling him how proud he was of the job he was doing.

What possible reason could there be to make a change?

Turns out, there were three, laid out by Fine when he broke the worst-kept secret to Miller, each one more pathetic than the last: a name was misspelled on a program and not fixed, leaving two parents very upset; the divots weren’t replaced on the football field after a game, because Miller decided to let the players wait until Monday as they were devastated after a tough district loss; and a player dropped the F bomb on the field and was allowed to play the next week.

One way, and maybe the only way, those sound like perfectly rational reasons is if, say, a well-heeled booster is pulling the strings. If he is hoping to replace the boring Miller with an exciting, big-name former FSU Seminole to, you know, take the program to that “next level.”

Whether Admiral Farragut has its own little Buddy Garrity — you remember the erstwhile pain in the butt Dillon Panthers booster from Friday Night Lights — running around firing people, he definitely assisted in the hiring, sitting in on the interviews, which is such a terrible decision the school lied and said it never happened.

Coach candidates who were in the room, however, confirmed it.

Davis did not work out, clearly, and was not a trade up. I wonder if whoever made the decision considered this, which struck me back in February: he was 0-7 the previous year in Jacksonville at a first-year program and was replaced. The reason clearly had nothing to do with being 0-7, because first-year programs generally go winless.

It was probably something else.

Chances are, Farragut is now quite familiar with that something else.


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