The Situation at DeMatha
High School Insider Jeff Nelson has filed this.
In not renewing the contract for coach Scott Pugh despite his team's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship this year, DeMatha Principal Dan McMahon said, "We wanted to go in a different direction," and did not elaborate further.
So I asked former DeMatha coach and frequent TFBO2F contributor Dick Long, now retired and living in Hilton Head, S.C., what he thought.
He said school officials had consulted him in recent weeks as they considered whether to bring Pugh back next season. And their decision not to do so came down to "communication issues."
Twenty percent of coaching is gamedays, according to Long. The other 80 percent involves keeping tabs on students' overall development (grades, temperament, behavior in school, etc.) and making sure the administration, parents and boosters are informed and feel comfortable with their roles in the program.
In regard to those responsibilities, Long said Pugh, 28, was not meeting the school's expectations, largely because Pugh did not work at the school. (Long did not work at DeMatha either.)
"They had talked to him and wanted him to really communicate better in all facets," Long said. "And inherently, it wasn't part of his makeup. And he's learning that."
DeMatha officials "were really frustrated," Long said, "and feel like he just needs more time to mature and understand the role of a head coach."
While McMahon did not go beyond his "different direction" comments, he was asked what the school will look for in a new coach and gave this answer:
"We hope they're a great communicator, that they have a great knowledge of the game, a wealth of contacts both to colleges to help kids advance who want to play [in college] as well as contacts in youth leagues. You want someone who has all different things."
When Pugh was told communication issues were cited as a potential reason he might be out of a coaching job, he said, "If that's what they want to call it, sure."
Long said he thinks highly of Pugh's technical knowledge of the game and believes Pugh could go to a college program as an assistant if he doesn't remain on the high school level.
Long, like McMahon, also spoke extremely highly of Pugh's character and said, "When you're young and not part of the school, it's very difficult."
St. Albans Coach Malcolm Lester
One prominent area high school coach said he was shocked to hear of DeMatha's decision and, not knowing the reason for it, said the job opening will have pros and cons to prospective candidates.
"It's like DeMatha, the name of the school speaks for itself," Lester said
the coach, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "But is somebody going to want to hop in where they have a coach who's there for three years, he wins two championships, goes to the championship game and loses by a goal the other year? And by all indications, he's well-behaved - and you see all sorts of coaches who aren't - and he does things the right way, runs camps and does things in the summer, and then he's let go?
"So it gives a reason for pause."
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