On Tuesday, Boca Ciega announced its finalists for football coach. And two of the out-of-town candidates have interesting back stories.
Former Jacksonville Mandarin football coach Jason Robinson, 32, made national news last summer when he was dismissed as football coach at Mandarin after sending an explicit video of himself to his 20-year-old girlfriend's cell phone. The girlfriend's mother came across the photos, and it wasn't too long before Robinson said he got an email saying he had been fired.
“I came to work Friday morning and a fellow teacher came up and told me that my girlfriend’s mom had found the pictures and e-mailed them to half of Duval County,'' Robinson told the Florida Times Union.
He added that, “This isn’t anything that adults in a long-distance relationship don’t do. (His girlfriend was taking classes at UCF). Apparently, no one in Duval County has ever done anything like this with their significant other. I didn’t do anything illegal and I never brought any of this to school.”
The situation was complicated by the fact that his girlfriend's younger sister, 17 at the time, attends Mandarin.
But here's the thing: both were consenting adults. Robinson did not use school property to send the pictures. Go ahead and question his judgment, but Robinson was cleared of any wrongdoing after an investigation by Duval County Public Schools department. It didn't get him his job back, but it certainly opened up a lively debate in Jacksonville.
Boca Ciega principal Michael Vigue said via e-mail Wednesday that background checks will be done after the first round of interviews. At a parents meeting last week at Palm Harbor University, PHU principal Christen Tonry and county athletic director Nick Grasso explained to parents wondering about their coaching search that finalists are generally chosen (based on resumes and the thoughts of selection committees) and then the background checks are conducted.
Another interesting finalist interviewing this week is Joe Skladany, a former sports bar owner who applied to become the executive director of the Florida High School Athletic Association when the job opened in 2008. Skladany is a pretty interesting character, according to a story in the Naples Daily News. He says he's a former All-American football player (Lafayette in Pennsylvania) who was nominated for the College Hall of Fame, he's coached basketball, swimming, track and football while a teacher at Fort Myers (1972-83), taught a sports marketing class at Florida Gulf Coast University and seems to be a pretty smart business guy.
All seven finalists are from Florida, including Dusty Boylson and Antez Brinson, who are current assistant coaches in Pinellas County. Boylson coaches at Dixie Hollins and teaches at Boca Ciega. Brinson is a teacher and assistant coach at Lakewood.
Boca Ciega is seeking to replace Stevie Thomas, who resigned in December because he said the school was looking for an on-campus coach. Thomas beat out seven other applicants for the Boca Ciega job in 2006. In five seasons he went 25-26 and made one playoff appearance in '07. This past season, the Pirates went 4-6 and lost three games each by a point.
In all, Boca Ciega had 90 applicants, including former Land O'Lakes coach Matt Kitchie, who was fired recently as Gators coach after an off-field incident involving quarterback Stevie Weatherford.
John C. Cotey and Bob Putnam, Times staff writers