Etowah football coach McCorkle resigns
Fri. January 11, 2013 at 8:36 p.m. | By Nick Johnston Sports Writer
Etowah head football coach Sam McCorkle resigned Thursday. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times | File)
Sam McCorkle’s four-year tenure as the head football coach at Etowah High School came to an end Thursday night.
The Attalla Board of Education voted unanimously to accept the coach’s resignation, which came under pressure according to McCorkle.
“I was asked to (resign),” McCorkle said Friday evening.
When asked why, he said, “You’ll have to ask (Superintendent) Mr. (David) Bowman about that. I was just asked to resign. He couldn’t give me a good reason. He said he felt like the team was going in the wrong direction and the players weren’t responding.”
Etowah has made the playoffs the past three seasons and is 17-6 in the last two. The Blue Devils won the region championship in 2011 and won their first playoff game since 2005. McCorkle went 27-17 during his time with the program.
Bowman had a different take on how McCorkle’s resignation came about and sounded surprised the coach said he was asked to step down.
“Who said he was asked to resign? (McCorkle) said it? Hmm. Well, I don’t have a lot of comment on that part,” Bowman said. “It’s just the fact he did resign.”
When pressed, Bowman reiterated, “I’m just saying he turned his resignation in to us and we accepted it at the board meeting (Thursday) night. ... As a general rule, when a coach resigns you just leave it at that.”
Etowah principal John Serafini, who’s retiring in June, said “he wasn’t asked (to resign) by me, he was asked by the people above me.”
“I think coach McCorkle has done a good job in the four years he’s been here,” Serafini said. “We’re just going to hate to see him go and wish him and his family the best of luck.”
McCorkle said he had little support from anyone other than Serafini.
“We didn’t get much support from the board, only had four full-time coaches,” McCorkle said. “I never felt like we ever got support. I never felt like we were ever completely accepted here.
“But I’ll tell you this: I had a great principal, Mr. Serafini, backing me in everything. He helped me every way he could. He supported our team, and he still supports the team. I appreciate him. ... I don’t know what to say, really. I do think there were some people on the board that’s been after me ever since I’ve been there.”
Long-time board member the Rev. Preston Nix hinted at the possibility that McCorkle had indeed lost the support of the board.
“I’m not going to say totally,” Nix said, “but the people on the board were not satisfied with some of the things that were taking place.”
Nix declined to give any specifics.
McCorkle has pursued other coaching opportunities during his tenure with Etowah, so loyalty to the program may have played a part in the decision. Nix said rumors swirled that McCorkle was looking to go elsewhere, possibly to the college level, at the beginning of 2012. McCorkle also was a finalist in March 2011 for the vacant Russellville head coaching job.
McCorkle is not ready to hang up the whistle, yet.
“I have tenure, I can teach,” McCorkle said. “I want to coach. I think there’s more coaching out there. I’ve talked to some people — I can’t really say who right now — but I think there will be some opportunities.”
Bowman is moving forward with a Jan. 31 deadline to have a new coach in place. McCorkle was hired after an exhaustive search by a committee that culminated with three public interviews of potential candidates. That won’t happen this time, as Bowman and Serafini will be in charge of the search.
“We’re going to do a search and find out who’s interested,” Bowman said. “I’ve already had some calls today actually on some interest some people have. We’ll probably start interviewing the week after next and I hope by Jan. 31 I can have a called board meeting and announce who it’s going to be.”