Keith’s coach dismissal shocks local coaches

Published 8:47 pm Monday, June 18, 2018

The dismissal of former Keith Head football coach Harry Crum this past week resulted in many members of the community expressing their opinion on the decision on social media, but local coaches were also irked by the vote to remove the veteran coach.

In the state of Alabama, local school boards do have the authority to vote on personnel decisions including coaches for the high school sports teams. Athletic directors and principals make their recommendations to the school board, but the decision is ultimately voted on by the school board members.

In Crum’s case, he was recommended by Keith High principal Tommy Tisdale, whose recommendation was supported and approved by the Dallas County School System Superintendent Hattie Shelton.

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However, it did not save his job from the vote.

Josh Thacker, head football coach and athletic director for Morgan Academy, was “baffled” at how the situation played out.

“The coaching community is a tight-knit group, and we do our best to try and stick up for one another,” he said. “It’s endangering someone’s career. Someone that’s been loyal to the school for [21] years, he’s the school’s winningest coach and he’d probably be there another 17 years if something like this wouldn’t have happened. But now, because of the opinions of a board member, not a superintendent, principal or athletic director, coach Crum has lost his job and it’s a sad situation.”

As a fellow coach, Thacker is in tune with what it takes to operate a football program. The ins-and-outs of dealing with roster turnover, game planning and preparing student-athletes on a week-to-week basis. He found it unsettling that the support from the school’s principal along with Crum’s track record wasn’t enough to ensure his job security.

“I can’t even understand why [the board] would have that responsibility,” he said. “They aren’t there every day. They don’t see what coach Crum has went through with his teams.”

The news also came as a shock to Southside head football coach Daniel Flowers.

“You’d think that you’d be able to walk out on your own terms,” he said. “It’s shocking because I feel like winning solves all problems, and I guess winning doesn’t solve these problems.”

The Southside Panthers and the Keith Bears have been playing each other for years. The Panthers lead the all-time series 25-20, and Flowers has only lost to Crum once in his past seven seasons.

Last season’s 40-32 overtime victory over the Bears was a testament to how competitive the games are between the two schools.

“I just know he’s a good football coach and I hate that he’s not going to be on that sideline,” Flowers said. “The reason our games have been competitive against Keith is because of the Wing-T. If he didn’t run that Wing-T, we’d blow Keith out every year. “

The Wing-T formation has been a staple of Keith’s offense. The variety of runs, options and counters that can be run from the formation makes it difficult to defend.

“That Wing-T has been giving us problems. I feel like if they go to a spread offense, we’ll kill ‘em,” Flowers said. “I feel like Crum did what was best for his players. I feel like it’s going to hurt them a little bit with him not being there.”