Before I get to some thoughts on the whole Brick coaching situation, I have some college commitments to report.
Holmdel’s Jason Hyland, who was a wide receiver/defensive back for the Hornets, has signed a letter of intent to play at Wagner, joining a host of former Shore Conference players. He is part of a recruiting class that also includes Matawan tight end/linebacker Jamiel Sims.
Also, Shore Regional defensive lineman Jason Reid is headed to Kean University, and his teammates, running backs Dylan Chase and Gerard Carnevale, are headed to William Paterson and Bryant University, respectively. Congrats to all of them.
One other bit of housekeeping – congrats are in order to Southern linebacker Glenn Carson (Penn State), Toms River North offensive lineman Evan Regas (Temple), and Wall running back Blaze Caponegro (Temple). All three were selected to play in the New Jersey-Northeast All-Star Classic on June 7 at 3 p.m. at Rutgers Stadium. The game now features top players from several Northeast states as it has expanded beyond the traditional New Jersey vs. New York format in its 12th season. Hopefully Carson can play, as I have heard some ominous things about his back injury flaring up again, so hopefully he is OK. Those three get the added bonus of being coached by former New York Giants great Phil Simms, who is coaching the New Jersey team, while former South River star and Super Bowl champion Joe Theismann is coaching the Northeast team.
Also, included on the New Jersey coaching staff is none other than Brick legend Warren Wolf, which is a nice segue into thoughts on the whole Brick coaching uproar.
When I heard Dowling was being recommended a while ago, I was pretty sure this kind of anger was going to happen because everyone just assumed someone with Brick ties would get this job. The Brick Superintendent, Walter Hrycenko, is not backing down from his pick of Dowling, which is interesting to me because obviously the expedient thing to do would be to just give it to a Brick guy. It also produced an all-time quote from Wolf -“You’re doing this either because you hate Brick Township football or you hate Warren Wolf.”
My take is that the only thing that’s going to solve this situation right now is winning because it’s already damaged beyond repair. If Dowling ends up getting approved, there is going to be a large segment of the town rooting for his failure, which basically means rooting against their own kids or their neighbor’s kids, which is an awkward spot to be in. It’s like something out of “Friday Night Lights,” where the out-of-town coach comes into the rabid Texas town without local ties and basically has to win to prevent “For Sale” signs being put on his front lawn. If Dowling and the Green Dragons win, people won’t care if he’s from Mars, and Hrycenko will be vindicated.
However, if Dowling does get it, irreparable damage will have been done to Wolf’s feelings toward a town that he has given the last 51 years of his life to in various capacities, which could reverberate for a while down the road, and don’t forget that seemingly 90 percent of the town has some kind of connection to Wolf. I just wonder why Hrycenko has taken the hard way of pushing Dowling rather than the easy way of going with a Brick guy like Len Zdanowicz or Tim Osborn other than for the reason Hrycenko has publicly stated – that he thinks Dowling is the best candidate, pure and simple. It’s a clean break with the Wolf era, that’s for sure, which is understandably tough to swallow for a man who helped put that town and that program on the map. If Hrycenko thought Dowling would just be approved without a major uproar, that was a bad miscalculation.
I think that the administration has looked across town and seen what Brick Memorial did by hiring two coaches without ties to the school in Fred Sprengel and then Walt Currie. Both were young, up-and-coming coaches from winning programs who ended up delivering state titles, while Brick has not won a state title since 1994. That might be another unsaid feeling – that the Wolf regime might have won a few division titles recently but has not challenged for a state title in 15 years, so maybe that way isn’t working like it used to. However, Brick is a unique situation because the coach before Sprengel at Memorial wasn’t there for 51 years as the school’s only head coach in program history with the most wins in state history.
Honestly, all I’ve heard from assistants and former head coaches who briefly considered putting in for that job is that everyone is waiting for Wolf’s successor to come in, fall flat while trying to deal with being in Wolf’s shadow, and then there will be a stampede to be the guy who follows that guy, not the guy who follows the legend. I guess the feeling is that the coach that follows Wolf won’t last too long, but that will depend on how well the team does and from what I’ve heard, Brick has some reasonable talent coming up through the ranks and should continue to be a winning program. Look at what Toms River North did a few years ago when successful coach Bob Nani was not brought back for controversial reasons – assistant Mickey Healey took over for a short time and then the administration cleaned house, brought in Chip LaBarca Jr. and a whole new staff, and won a state title.
If Wolf actually does come back, as he said he may rescind his retirement if it comes down to Dowling getting the job, I would think he is somewhat of a lame duck because the players know he’s not really there because he wants to be, but because he felt he had to be. Plus, this problem will just come up again when Wolf steps down the next time, unless a deal is struck to have a Brick guy get it when Wolf steps down again.
Dowling has still expressed interest in the job, which somewhat surprises me because I would think all of that negative sentiment might scare off most coaches. The other thing is that if Wolf prevails and gets his wish that a Brick guy gets the job, that coach is going to know he wasn’t the first choice and that he has his job because threats were raised, which is another awkward situation.
The bottom line is that there is going to be tension no matter who gets the job, and the only thing that will solve it is winning. The 2009 Brick football season will definitely not be boring, that’s for sure. The servers on the forum better be reinforced to avoid crashing from the hail of comments if the Dragons get off to a bad start, no matter who is coaching.
As they say, winning solves everything. Don’t forget that former Holmdel coach Andy Carlstrom and the current staff at Asbury Park stepped into controversial situations, and when they won, everybody forgot about all the negative stuff.