As expected, the future of the entire Russell football coaching staff is in question.
A day after the school announced that Ivan McGlone was no longer the head coach after 38 seasons, the remaining paid assistant coaches received notices regarding their status for next year.
Each assistant was given a letter stating that his contract had been fulfilled for the past year, since contracts are made on a year-to-year basis, and his salary for the next year would reflect the void of previous coaching compensation.
Basically, the slate is wiped clean in order for the new head coach to make staff decisions. This is considered common practice, and several may even return as assistants.
Jeff Smith, who played and coached for McGlone, decided to retire from coaching. He will remain an educator through next December.
“Other than my time in college or the six years that I left to start Fairview’s program back, I have played or coached with Ivan for 24 years,” said Smith, who was Fairview’s head coach from 1998-2000. “He has been like a second father to me. Even as much as I will miss the players and Friday nights, I don’t see myself coaching without Ivan.”
Garry Morris has been on the staff since 1997, after coming over from Lawrence County. Most of his stint was served as defensive coordinator. The Red Devils’ defense was continually a main reason for their success, especially in the mid-2000s. During Russell’s state runner-up season in 2006, it tallied four shutouts.
Morris, Russell High School’s Dean of Students, said the way McGlone’s legendary run ended was unsettling.
McGlone said on Thursday that he was offered a farewell season for both 2013 and ’14, but turned down the grand exit both times. The 75-year-old wasn’t ready to stop coaching, but Russell elected to go in a different direction.
“I’m frustrated and sad about how the whole ordeal played out,” Morris said. “I realize, however, that change is inevitable, but rarely easy. Obviously, this is not easy. I want to thank Coach McGlone. The great times far outweigh the not so great, and that’s still the case.”
Morris assumed the spot that Smith left vacant upon his departure to Fairview in 1997. Smith rejoined the staff in 2003.
Like Smith, Morris also referred to McGlone as family.
“I can’t remember when we first met, and that’s because I feel like, much like a father, he’s always been there,” Morris said. “Simply put, to me, he’s family.”
Morris has been rumored as a candidate to take over the program.
In response to those rumors, Morris said, “I’m not even thinking about football at all right now.
“Right now, I’m no longer a football coach,” he added. “I did not retire, I did not submit a letter, but right now I’m not a coach.”
The 50-year-old said he has a seventh-grade daughter who will also play a major role in any future decisions.
Tracy Edwards, one of the longest-serving assistant coaches ever in the area, hopes to have a decision in front of him. He spent 27 seasons as part of the staff with McGlone.
“I live and breathe Russell football and, if the opportunity arose, I would certainly be thrilled and for sure consider it,” said Edwards, who played his final season at Russell in 1975, a year before McGlone became head coach. Edwards joined the staff in 1987.
“I missed playing for him by one year,” Edwards said. “That sure would’ve been fun to play for him and then coach with him, too ... It’s certainly been an honor to coach with him and spend as much time as I did with him.”
Other (paid and unpaid) assistants on last year’s staff included Lee Evans, Dave Caniff, Buford Hurley, Chris Castle, Rhese McKenzie, Leslie Johnson and Tony Pierce.
AARON SNYDER can be reached email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.