Losing programs aren’t the only ones infected with frequent turnover in coaches.
Take Fayetteville High School, where Casey Dick was hired last week as the fourth head coach in five years for football. Dick follows Billy Dawson, who followed Bill Blankenship, who followed Daryl Patton. Dawson, Blankenship and Patton left for various reasons at Fayetteville, which has won five state championships since 2007.
And that’s not all.
Rogers Heritage recently hired two coaches, Steve Hookfin for football and Josh Laymon for girls basketball. Fort Smith Southside will rely on Robert Brunk to restore a proud girls basketball program that has struggled mightily in recent years, and someone will have to replace Charlie Cooper, who announced his retirement after 14 years as the boys head basketball coach at Southside. Crosby Tuck was promoted to head football coach at Van Buren, and Michael Meador will succeed Lonnie Hester at Hackett.
Ricky May takes over at Charleston after Greg Kendrick resigned and joined Doug Loughridge’s staff at Alma. Fayetteville announced Brad Stamps (basketball) and Elizabeth Thomas-Gammill (cheer) as new coaches before settling on Dick to lead its football program.
The University of Arkansas was also active on the coaching carousel, bringing in Eric Musselman from Nevada to replace Mike Anderson as the men’s basketball coach and hiring Jordyn Wieber as the women’s gymnastics coach.
Got all that?
Me, neither, and I’ve probably missed a few.
Dick, 32, is well-known in the state as a former quarterback at Arkansas under both Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino. He is sixth on the Razorbacks all-time passing list with 5,856 yards for his career. His only previous job as a head coach came last season, when Van Buren finished 4-7 overall and 3-4 in the 7A-West Conference.
Dick’s inexperience is a concern, especially at a school in the 7A-West, but that can be offset by his experience as a starting quarterback in college football’s toughest division.
“There’s going to be critics, no matter what you do,” said Dick, who was introduced during a meet-and-greet at Fayetteville High School on Friday. “That only inspires you to go out, put a product on the field that the community can be proud of and prove those people wrong.”
Fayetteville fans shouldn’t read too much into Dick’s losing record at Van Buren. The Pointers have been overmatched while trying to compete in Arkansas’ largest classification, and their 4-7 record was actually a sign of progress from previous years. I saw firsthand how the players responded to Dick’s youthful enthusiasm.
Now, Dick goes from the bottom to near the top in the 7A-West, and he knows 4-7 won’t cut it in any season at Fayetteville, which remains united while school districts at Bentonville, Springdale and Rogers have split.
Much is expected, and Dick is expected to deliver right from the get-go. It is pressure he’s handled quite well, beginning as a starting quarterback at Allen, Texas, a high school football power with a stadium that now seats 18,000.
“When you come to a place like this that’s got a lot of history and tradition, there are certain expectations,” said Dick, who will be paid $76,517 per year at Fayetteville. “It’s just part of the job. But when you get to this level in high school, that’s what makes it fun.”
Dick has already met with the Fayetteville players, and he’ll lead them onto the field May 6 for the start of spring football practice. Fayetteville finished 10-3 last season, and enough talent remains for another successful season for the Bulldogs.
Dick is ready to get started, and Fayetteville is eager for its bright, young coach to bring stability to a position that’s experienced far too much turnover in recent years.
Rick Fires can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NWARick.