Vaught's Views: Boyle no longer a basketball school

July 04, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

The next few weeks probably will determine the future of Boyle County boys basketball for many, many years.

Not long ago, Boyle was known as a basketball school with an improving football program. Now Boyle is known as a football school - winning five straight state titles - with a basketball program that is like a lot of others.

Boyle is looking for a new basketball coach after former Rebel Andy Moberly recently resigned after compiling a 47-37 record in his three years. Before that, Boyle had won 12th Region titles in 1998 and 1999 for coach Mike Pittman.

However, the Boyle football and basketball programs have gone different directions the last five years. The Boyle football team is 73-2, a winning percentage of .973, and has won a state title each season. The Boyle basketball team is 62-76, a winning percentage of .449 and has not been farther than the 12th Region semifinals.


It's no wonder athletics director Jim Spears said he wants to find a basketball coach, possibly as early as this week, who has a history of working at a school that has had successful football and basketball programs.

Two possibilities come to mind

If that's a priority, two obvious possibilities that know the Boyle program come to mind. One is Ed McKinney, the former Danville coach who left basketball two years ago to spend more time with his family but still lives here. The other is Mark Starns, the former head coach at Burgin who has been an assistant coach at Mason County during the Royals' recent surge to top of Kentucky prep hoops.

Starns applied for the job and was interviewed when Moberly was hired. Since then he's helped mold Chris Lofton into Mr. Basketball at Mason and helped the Royals become a fixture in the state tournament. Mason has also relied primarily on players who play both football and basketball to become a state hoops power, but the football team has also been a Class AA title contender the last three years.

McKinney took Danville to the 2002 12th Region title game and four of his last five teams reached the regional semifinals. He also had to rely on a roster dominated by players who also played on state championship football teams at a place no one can deny is a football school.

Boyle apparently has already contacted each coach to see if either has any interest in the job. The Rebels are also accepting applications and probably have reached out to other coaches and may well want to talk to Spencer Tatum now that he's resigned at Harrodsburg because, like McKinney and Starns, he's familiar with the area and knows how to share athletes with the football team.

To give the new coach a chance to succeed, Boyle has to make sure he has a teaching position at the high school. It's not impossible for a coach to succeed it he's teaching at the middle school or elementary school, but it's more difficult and also indicates a lack of commitment to the sport by the school admininstration.

Boyle administrators and fans also have to be patient with the new coach. Most of the school's best athletes are going to be on the football team. That means they won't be playing basketball year round and with the Rebels' annual date in the state title game, they also will miss the first four to six weeks of preseason practice. That makes it a lot harder to win, especially early in the season.

Then there is the wild card

Then there is the wild card, Lincoln County coach Jeff Jackson. He was also a finalist for the job when Moberly was hired. He had already won a state championship at University Heights, but he did not get the final nod from Boyle. Instead, he came to Lincoln last year and it's obvious he's putting the pieces in place to have a successful program. That's going to make it harder on every 45th District coach, including the one at Boyle, especially if Lincoln's highly-touted freshman class turns out to be as good as many seem to think it will be.

So would McKinney, Starns or Tatum take the job if offered? Starns probably would if he felt everything was in place to let him have a program like the one at Mason. McKinney might have a harder time saying yes unless it was a lucrative offer because he left basketball coaching to spend more time with his three young children and he also still has many ties to Danville athletics. Tatum has just accepted a job at Mercer as an assistant coach, but moving to Boyle as the head coach would be a move he would have to make if the job was offered.

However, no matter who the new coach is, Boyle fans have to accept that winning basketball games is not as easy for the Rebels now as it was 10 years ago before Boyle became a football school.

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