Seriously, the school is roughly 35 miles north east of Dallas and is certainly a million miles north east of everything sane and sober.
Or is it? Consider this. Remember the movie: Friday Night Lights? It was based on Texas’s Permian high school 1988 football season. Anyway, Permian plays out of Ratliff stadium and it seats over 19,000. Granted, Odessa High Bronchos plays out of there too, but even back when it opened in 1982 it cost 5.6 million to build – so maybe 62.8 million, given inflation and wage and materials escalation some 34 years later, is, pun intended, ball park.
But what is way out in left field is the intensity to win at nearly all moral and ethical costs. At John Jay high school, assistant football coach, Mack Breed, as USA Today reported “...is alleged to have told players to target umpire Robert Watts during a Sept. 4 game against Marble Falls. Breed initially admitted that he had directed the players to make Watts pay for missed calls and racial slurs.” Now Watts says he didn’t make racial slurs, but even if he did, and let’s assume he botched some plays, these transgressions in no way deserved targeted retribution. Watt’s lawyer, Jay Downs says the umpire has a concussion.
Maybe Texan football should sit back, sip a Long Island Iced Tea, and, you know – chill. Gary Gutierrez, Head coach at John Jay was, however, put on the hot seat and had to explain Texas high school football competitive culture. (The two players that did the hit job were exiled to an alternative high school for 75 days.) Hopefully Gary’s football plays are more imaginative than his boilerplate, off the rack, response.
“I’ve looked at the man in the mirror. I took ownership in this as well as being the leader, but at the same time, this is not reflective of the program or the coach I am or the coaches on our staff or the kids in our school and community.” You’ll be glad to know that principal Robert Harris still thinks Gutierrez is the right guy...
Let’s move on, back to the bigger picture of HS football in the Lone Star State. Head coaches get paid to produce. No big insight there but here’s a financial fact a bit outta sight. Even in 2011 the average salary for 46 of the head honchos was at $88,420 with Steve Lineweaver of Euless Trinity raking in $114,413 – making him the most well compensated of coaches “...in the area.”
To put the importance of football and “production” in perspective as compared to the importance of math, sciences, or English, say – other teachers in the North Texas region pulled in about 51,452 annually.
For public high schools the best, academically, nationally, from Texas was Austin’s Westlake High School, coming in at a not-so-hot 21st. That school, however, was pretty darn hot in football in 2015, losing to the North Shore Senior High Mustangs, 21-14, in that year's State championships 6A Div1. So North Shore has pigskin bragging rights – but it didn’t finish in the top 50 schools in the nation. In fact, only Westlake made the top 50. Not a good result for the second most populous state. (Most populous, California had 6 schools in the top 25!) And Newsweek had only 31 Texas high schools in its top 500 list.
But in matters of football, of the top 25 schools for football 2015-16 as tabulated by Kenneth Massey, a stats-math whiz, Texas’s Katy was number 1 (and was named national champions, however that works) and Lake Travis came 12th, with George Ranch in 24th.
Just a bit more with the numbers. Know that 55% of voters decided a new stadium for Katy was needed and approved one to cost 58 million and seat some 12,000.
So wow and why? Sigh. Football is a religion. Ever heard of immaculate conception? Well, down there, they’ve got something called immaculate deception and it has been witnessed by thousands. Way back in 2012 Eagle Stadium was born. It could hold 18,000.
So good, so far. Don’t get your cows runn’in. It only cost 60 million. But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Despite household incomes in Allen, Texas coming in at a swanky 95,000 annually – and despite all the hoopla everyone felt at this new pigskin pedestal - there was, um, one flaw.
The concrete cracked and the facility closed shop in 2014. Kind of like being clotheslined when running back a kickoff. Head comes off and plenty of blame goes around. Despite the fact that it doesn’t work, it sure looks splashy and fancy. Lookee here!
It did, however, reopen in 2015 after having fixed “an unfortunate set of circumstances...”
So it appears Texas high school football ain’t going away. Heck, even in Allen, with the literal faults in that structure the sentiment is...next time, it’ll be bigger! In Texas, they don’t talk through their hat often – and this feeling for football is no idle/idol boast but is, in fact, one we should keep our eyes on.
Oh, this just in. Texas high school championship games are returning to the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium – the one that cost 1.2 billion. Seat capacity? 101,000...