Marion County football raises questions

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It's no secret the amount of respect I have for high school football coaches. Anyone who knows me understands the high opinion I place on these mentors who give so much of themselves to help mold boys into men.

Coaches of all sports all too often must sacrifice time with their own families in order to maintain a level of excellence and integrity within their programs. In my opinion, it's time spent with players off the field and away from the locker rooms that actually defines the role of a football coach, not wins and losses and certainly not the two or three hour battles with opponents on Friday nights.

I consider many of these coaches to be among my closest friends. I've had a lot more conversations with coaches about personal and philosophical issues than I have about players or upcoming opponents. What a coach has to say about a kid's personal life means so much more to me than what kind of offense or defense he'll use against next week's opponent.

That faith and trust I have with more than 300 head football coaches in Tennessee were shattered last week. Stories of misconduct by Marion County football coaches both shocked and saddened me. Head coach Mac McCurry, although not yet charged in the matters, appears to be involved and has resigned.

Mac is a longtime friend. Our relationship goes back more than 25 years when I began my preseason magazine and he was coaching at Moore County High School in Lynchburg. And although Mac and I have not talked in a couple of weeks, his future as a coach and educator in Tennessee does not look promising.

Recent articles in a Chattanooga paper refer to members of the Warrior coaching staff allegedly being responsible for the theft of playbooks from offices of opposing coaches. Marion County supposedly used a former college player in multiple practices to simulate the speed of opposing South Pittsburg ball carriers. Arrests and resignations of Warrior football coaches have taken place. A dark cloud has certainly been cast over the program.

In light of recent happenings in Jasper, I search for answers. Is winning at all costs considered acceptable behavior? Is it OK to totally disregard rules and regulations in the name of victory? Has society put so much emphasis on winning that we sacrifice what is considered right and honest in order to achieve it? And what lessons are being taught to our youth who play the game?

Talk has already circulated about penalties and the future of Marion County football. It is my hope that players not be punished for the actions of adults. If the coaches are proven guilty, then let's disallow them from ever teaching or coaching in our state again. But don't punish the players, other students and residents of Jasper who passionately love Warrior football.

Murphy Fair has published Tennessee High School Football for 25 years. His statewide syndicated radio show (Murphy’s Matchups) can be heard locally Fridays just before kickoff on WBRY.).

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