Vaught's Views: French will expect commitment from Lincoln

March 09, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Lincoln County wanted a proven head coach to take over its struggling football program.

The Patriots certainly got a coach with a proven record in Larry French. Now, here's hoping that Lincoln officials understand the commitment French will expect from them.

French is cut from the same no-nonsense mold as former Lincoln coaches Larry Phillips and Marty Jaggers, the two coaches who each took a team to the Class AAA state title game. He's not going to let politics or any ties to a specific part of Lincoln County determine who he plays or how he runs his program.

Certain promises were made to French to persuade him to leave Meade County, where he won 106 games in 15 years, to take over a program that has won just seven games in the last three seasons.


He knows former coach Robbie Lucas, a Lincoln native, did not have an adequate staff or funding to really have a chance to succeed. He knows the Patriots need to upgrade equipment and most things in the football program.

"I've been told those things are going to be taken care of," French said.

What if they are not?

"Then I am not tied here forever," he said.

Believe him. He's already has 30 years of teaching and coaching experience. That means he can retire with full benefits today, next month or next year.

"I am going to do it my way, or it will not be done," French said. "I won't be told how to do things."

That may sound harsh, or even uncooperative, but it's not.

He knows how to run a successful football program

French can work within the system. He did at Mercer County when he compiled a 70-43 record from 1978-88 and put respectability into the program. It's just that he knows to run a successful football program, he has to be the one making the major decisions. Not school officials. Not parents. Not boosters.

He knows the program needs a major infusion of money, and he has been told the football budget will increase.

"I like to spend money on things the program needs, and we need a lot of things," French said.

He knows he has to have more full-time assistant coaches.

"They've promised me I'll have a chance to add some coaches," French said.

He also knows the program's image has to change. School officials forgot to notify media members about French's hiring Friday. A major financial sponsor was politely told a few years ago that his company's money was no longer needed. Opposing coaches have noticed that Lincoln's equipment and uniforms have not been as nice as those other area teams have.

"It's not an overnight process," French said.

He also knows Lucas was partially forced out because some felt he was not the right coach to develop Lincoln's middle school talent.

"I watched the eighth-grade basketball team play the other night," French said. "They have a little bit of talent there to build on. But it is still going to be a challenge. Anybody that thinks one good class is going to put Lincoln on par with Boyle County better think again."

That's why I love French. He doesn't mince words, and he won't on the sideline, either. He expects perfection and does not tolerate imperfection well. He'll set high standards for his players and expect them to work to meet those goals.

However, French won't tolerate anyone telling him who he should be playing or what he should be doing.

"I like a challenge, but I also like to do things my way," French said. "I think this job has a lot of potential. There could still be some painful times ahead. I won't lie about that. But I'm going to do it my way and if that's not enough to make people happy, then I'll step aside and let someone else try."

Central Kentucky News Articles