A lot happened at Southern Lee on Tuesday.
Before Tuesday, a lot happened on Monday, when several parents of Cavaliers players and at least seven Cavaliers players met to discuss why former Southern Lee wrestling coach and offensive coordinator Mike Short wasn’t granted an interview for the head football coaching position left vacated by the removal of Bill Maczko.
But Tuesday was even busier, first with reports of Short being transferred to West Lee before other reports of him resigning from the school system altogether.
After that on Tuesday night, the Lee County Board of Education certified Eric Puryear as the new Cavaliers coach. Puryear comes to Sanford after serving as the defensive backs coach at Wingate University. Before that, Puryear was the defensive coordinator at Division-II Johnson C. Smith.
It looks like a fantastic hire for the Cavaliers. But the story obviously doesn’t end there, and honestly, it doesn’t start there. Too much has happened.
With that said, let’s go through some of the comments from the day, and see if everybody can move forward.
“Anytime you take a job, you have to sell yourself, basically because you’re like a new product.” Eric Puryear
Puryear could not have started off a better foot with this comment. It shows he understands what the Cavaliers have been through, recognizes it and is willing to put himself on the line.
“The quickest way to get past what happened last year is to win. We’re going to try to do that as a coaching staff, and with the help of Principal Rod Dietrich and (Athletic Director) Cletis Gore, we’re going to be trying to get the community involved as much as possible.” Eric Puryear
Another wise comment, I believe, from Puryear, who seems to “get it”. This is going to be tougher than even he may realize right now, and it’s hard to believe that Dietrich and Gore will be welcomed with open arms for a while, but it would be a great start to mending things.
“Coach Puryear brings a lot of coaching experience with him from the level all of our players are trying to get to. He has a good foundation of coaching experience that will move us forward.” Southern Lee Principal Rob Dietrich
Trying to get players to next level wasn’t necessarily happening last year. This might just be what the doctor ordered.
“It’s hard to believe (Short) could come down to the final three last year, but that he doesn’t deserve an interview a year later.” Cavs parent Royce Gaines
Still true. Still very, very true. It’s hard to believe that the events of the last month — heck, the last year — couldn’t have been handled better at every turn. But if Short wasn’t a clear-cut candidate, what’s wrong in saying so? Why can’t anybody give an explanation for anything?
“I hope parents will appreciate that we make decisions that we feel is in the best interests for our student-athletes. We would not put someone in the position that we feel would not advance the program. We are privy to information that parents are not privy to, and we take all of that into consideration when we make decisions that affect students’ lives.” Superintendent Dr. Jeff Ross
I agree this is the aim, and honestly, I think it’s the truth. But actions will always speak louder than words.
“We’re going to establish organization to the program and we’re going to establish a level of discipline to the program, and our finished product we put on the field will be able to compete with anyone on our schedule.” Eric Puryear
This may not be quantifiable in the won-loss record next year. But I imagine there will be a lot indications how things are going by how the Cavaliers compete next season.
“No comment.” Mike Short, Rob Dietrich, Dr. Jeff Ross
Understandable — to a degree. OK, so it’s policy not to comment on personnel. Fine. But people, especially those who have children in the school system, deserve to know why a teacher was removed from any capacity. That’s just how I feel, I guess.
With all that’s been going on, Southern Lee had to make a decisive and standout hire. I believe the administration has done that. Let’s see where it all goes now.
For more on Eric Puryear and his credentials, which are considerable, go here.