In 363 days, Bill Maczko went from being the next big thing to just being the next guy.
His brief tenure at the head of the Southern Lee football program came to an abrupt end in the last week, as it was reported that Maczko would not return next season as the program’s head coach.
The writing had been on the wall for some time — a lengthy petition outlining parents’ concerns over the coach’s personal style was circulated before the season even came to a close, and another parent publicly went before the school board to address his problems with the guy.
How Maczko was removed has been left to off-the-record chatter and rumor, and whether the real story about that specific chain of events ever comes out still remains unclear. When it came to dealing with the situation, more decisions seemed to be made of the cloak-and-dagger variety than out in the open, leaving second-hand stories and rumors to rule the day.
Not that any of that matters that much anymore. What’s done is done, and now the program, the school’s administration and the board of education are left to pick up the pieces and try to reassemble what once seemed like an up-and-coming player in 3-A football.
How that happens exactly is anybody’s guess. Before Maczko ran his first practice, he inherited a team that was very different than the one he thought he was going to get when he was awarded the job, adding to the weight he was already under after winning the position over two of the team’s assistants. Southern Lee lost three difference-making skilled-position players well before the first day of practice for a wide variety of reasons, and looking back with perfect hindsight vision, it’s fairly easy to see that a dramatic shift in offensive philosophy wasn’t what the doctor ordered for the Cavaliers.
But that doesn’t mean Maczko gets a free pass. With losses come criticism. It happens all the time that way now, even at the high school level. The two sides were perfectly clear and monumentally divided, but it’s safe to say that criticism wasn’t handled well. If an olive branch was extended, it was a short one, and way too thin to bear any real significance.
And so, while it may have taken a while and may have left both sides metaphorically bloodied, there is one unifying truth to the entire matter.
This is the best decision for everybody.
Whatever anybody thinks about Maczko, and whatever he may be feeling after losing his first chance at a head coaching job, moving on from Southern Lee at this time might be the best thing for him. Entering a summer offseason of workouts, Maczko was already viewed as Public Enemy No. 1, and that’s an uphill battle that reaches no crest.
And with the rumors swirling every day, the word was out — and it was going to stay out. The numbers were going to be down this season, and with a frightful schedule coming up in 2009 (Southern Lee will face E.E. Smith, Seventy-First and Leesville Road, and will be in a tougher conference), player defections from the program would likely have become happenstance in what was sure to be a trying season, at the very least.
The decision, though, gives everyone a fresh start. Maczko gets an opportunity to assess where it all went wrong, and how to remedy it for his next shot. The players will get a new chance to impress a new coach in an environment that won’t have the stigma of such palpable division, just like the school system and the miffed parents can begin anew, with hopes of cleaner exchanges in the future.
The events in the Cavaliers’ football program over the last year could never have been envisioned, not with glossy state championship rings joining a program that had goals to set records even in its infancy — and reached them.
It didn’t turn out well. That part is obvious.
What’s also clear is that it’s over. And it’s time to learn from the mistakes, and move on.