Time for Austin football to start over
Last week, it was decided that the contract of Austin High head football coach Matt Schmit would not be renewed, ending Schmit's two-year run with the Packers.
On paper, there’s no way to argue against the move.
In two seasons, Schmit’s program was winless, going 0-18. During that time, the Packers were outscored 722-180.
At times, it was truly ugly.
That said, there were signs of life this season. As someone who’s been on the sidelines for the last two years, I can tell you this coaching staff did take a massive step in the right direction this season.
They were far more organized and confident. And more than once they made in-game adjustments that bettered their football team. Put simply, Schmit and his staff improved in 2011.
Did I agree with everything they did? No, definitely not. But I did see improvement across the board.
While Schmit's first season was ugly and the Packers rarely had a chance to win, Austin was in several games this season and remained competitive with most of the teams in the Big Nine Conference.
Frankly, I would have liked to see what Schmit and his coaching staff could have done next season. Why? Because this group of sophomores is the most talented class of athletes I’ve seen since I started covering the Packers six seasons ago.
This sophomore group will win some games next year, and they’ll be flat-out good as seniors.
The other thing — Schmit was a good person. He cared about the kids, and he was doing his best to clean up the program.
But, what’s done is done, and when you don’t win a football game in two years, there should be little arguing, so I’m fine with the decision to not renew Schmit’s contract.
However, there are some steps that should be made moving forward if the school district really cares about this football program and wants to see it succeed for years to come.
First off, clean house. Let’s start over completely. The new coach should bring in a new staff, and begin a completely new era of Austin High football. Eliminating the culture of losing isn’t going to be easy, and having a new staff will be a serious transition for everyone involved. But it’s the best thing for the program moving forward.
Second, hire an independent committee and put it in charge of interviewing and selecting the right candidate for this job. Don’t let parents pick the coach, don’t let people who are already over-involved and have their own preconceived notions influence this hiring process.
Finally, give the new hire a break. This is your coach. You’ve run several coaches out of town, but it’s time to get fully behind a head football coach, give him what he needs and support him in every way. That support wasn’t there for Tim Hermann, and it quickly wore thin when Schmit wasn’t winning.
This is your hire, people. Whomever is selected as the new coach, he’s your guy. He has to be.
The people of this town want to support their football team again. They want success on the field. They’re begging for it. So this obviously is a crucial hire for the future of Austin High football. If it’s botched, the Packers could be stuck in a rut for another decade.
So no stone should be unturned.
Let’s hope several quality coaches recognize the talent that’s waiting in the wings here in Austin and throw their names into the hat for this vacancy.
Restoring the Big Red Machine to its glory days of old is a long way off, and yet this decision could be a giant leap toward renewing the faith at Art Hass Stadium.