Words of enlightenment for a man with no title

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dear David Heeb,

It has come to my attention that you believe you have not been given ample explanation on your status with the Scott County Central School District.

Perhaps I can be of assistance.

You see, even though members of the board of education and administration have not answered our queries or returned our calls, the district's superintendent, Dr. Joel Holland, did write us a letter that offered some clarity.

I appreciate that Dr. Holland took time from his vacation schedule to let us know what happened nine days prior at the school board meeting. And I feel this might qualify me to speak on behalf of the district regarding your status.

First, let's not get hung up on words like fired and terminated.

That clearly has not happened here. There has been no vote to relieve you of the position of athletic director or of your coaching duties in boys basketball and track.

The school board just happens to consider those positions unoccupied at this time, just like all the other coaching positions in the district.

Don't take it personal.

The district may find that this is the best time of the year to hire coaches. It could be the start of a new trend.

And it may be good for your image in the long run. Even those people who are suspicious of your success feel you've been mistreated by the board.

Second, don't expect the school district to make any public comment on what may have changed in recent months that brought about the board's action. That's the nature of the public school business.

Instead, allow that people can believe any number of Internet rumors circulating about the program: Parents of incoming players are calling the shots; a veteran coach is waiting in the wings; some summer basketball incident took place involving the guy who once was known as the coach but no longer is even though he hasn't been fired; MSHSAA is lurking, even though spokesman Rick Kindhart said last week that you are in "good standing" and that there is "no investigation involving [you] at this point" by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Third, since you haven't been fired and the position still is open, you might be the coach again for the Braves. See, that's kind of a fun way to look at it. You used to be coach, now you're not; you may be able to coach again, maybe not. Isn't that fun? Like an entertaining game.

Maybe the meeting this week with Dr. Holland will help explain how it works.

Fourth, since you didn't coach the boys basketball team last year -- Ronnie Cookson led the team to a 24-5 record and a district championship -- you may be rusty, out of practice. You might not be qualified to coach anymore, really.

Those two state titles in five years at Bell City, well, that was a few years ago.

Your only season at Scott County Central was a 16-14 campaign with roughly the same group Cookson coached last year, which is roughly the same group back for 2007-08. If you do the math, exponentially, a qualified coach could take this team to a 32-0 record.

Fifth, you've been renewed as a teacher of physical education, after all, and that's what the district would like you to focus on. Some people thought that your move from Bell City to Scott County Central in 2005 was about rebuilding the Scott County Central basketball program that won 12 titles over an 18-year span under Cookson.

They thought Scott County Central brought you back home to your alma mater to turn things around in the same brash style you built a Bell City program that previously had just one district title.

But that's not the case.

It seems the district has concluded that style won't work at Scott County Central after all. Since you last coached in 2006 and may be out of practice, the whole thing has become obvious: It might be time for a new direction.

Toby Carrig is the Southeast Missourian sports editor.

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