The Pryor Times

April 19, 2014

The Porter Report

Irate Pirates

Chuck Porter
Sports Editor

PRYOR, OK — Was it the blood moon Monday night?

A late April Fool's joke?

No. It's all serious, and it's all for real. Four Locust Grove coaches started this week with the school; by Tuesday, all four were packing up their desks.

I'm calling it Red Tuesday.

I've heard of mass firings before, but never in this context. I spoke with media and school officials around northeastern Oklahoma Tuesday afternoon and evening, and the consensus was that no one had ever seen anything like the massacre the Locust Grove school board unleashed Tuesday.

There is quite clearly something the board or the coaches are not saying openly. I won't surmise as to what that something might be, but whatever it is, the crevasse between the parties — that is, the school board and each individual coach — was wide.

However, there wasn't much suggestion, at least to the public, that the bridges had already started to collapse.

But why on God's green earth would you fire all four at the same time, just a month before the end of school?

The reason Maple gave The Times for his dismissal was that the board “wanted to head in a different direction.” It appears the direction they may be headed is rock bottom.

Many concerned Locust Grove citizens have voiced their opinions on the dismissals. Our own Cydney Baron reported Thursday that most of the reaction has been fervently against the school board, while the minority claimed that the coaches' firings were karmic.

The outcry has been justified, for the most part, given the success of each coach since their respective arrivals at Locust Grove.

Maple and Johnny Cook have built reputations for their strong-willed coaching styles, but both built lastingly successful programs. Cook had been at the school almost two decades, and his 2014 3A/4A State Wrestling Coach of the Year trophy hadn't even collected dust by the time he got his pink slip.

Amy Brown is a well-loved figure in the Locust Grove community, by all accounts, and anyone who has spent even a little time around the Pirate wrestling program could tell you Johnny wouldn't be as decorated as he is without his brother and right-hand man Tony.

It may be some time before we find out what exactly happened in Locust Grove, and we may never find out. School officials can be that way sometimes.

Whatever is going on across the lake, it stinks of something a little deeper than what's on the surface right now.