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Board mishandled coaching situation

Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 by Ed Dalton

Board mishandled coaching situation

12/15/2009 11:38 AM

If you happened to be in Trinity High School last Friday morning, a distinct odor was making its way through the hallway.

It smelled rotten.

At the previous night’s school board meeting, the new members were seated and promptly fired every fall sports head coach, including athletic director and football coach Ed Dalton.

Let’s be clear. This action was not taken because Trinity’s board members were unhappy with the efforts of all its fall coaches. They wanted Dalton out and no one had the guts to say, “Why don’t we just fire Ed and leave the others alone?”

So everyone gets swept down the drain. Of course, those former coaches can always reapply for the positions.

Dalton said the move took him by surprise. If it’s true that no one bothered to address issues with him before the board fired him, that’s a low-class way of handling the situation.

Cynics will joke Dalton was fired because he had the audacity of turning one of the most inept and disorganized football programs in the WPIAL into a playoff regular.

When he arrived at Trinity 11 years ago, the mandate was clear: stop the perpetual losing.

That’s what he did.

Trinity was 54-56 during Dalton’s stay, not the greatest record but a vast improvement for a program that even struggled to organize its preseason photo day. More important, Friday nights in the fall finally had some meaningful games and lots of excitement. The Hillers qualified for the WPIAL playoffs five seasons in a row, and even managed to pull out a win or two.

The program turned out quality players, a handful of whom ended up with full scholarships to major college programs. There were dozens of others who extended their athletic and academic careers in the lower divisions with the help of scholarship money.

No one was snickering at this program, until last Thursday night.

Dalton had his critics. Many were unhappy when Trinity pulled out of the Brownson House youth football league, creating its own program that held games at Hiller Field.

Dalton was not a great politician. He often told you what he thought, consequences be damned.

Still, the football program was what he most cared about and he did a good job instilling respect and enthusiasm into the players and fans.

It’s a shame his tenure ended the way it did, an unexpected call in the night followed by a reported confrontation with a board member the next day.


Firing Dalton was the easy part. These types of power plays are nothing new in high school sports. Some school boards just handle them better.

Now, this board has to find someone to replace him.

Knute Rockne is dead and Lou Holtz is retired, so cross them off your list. The way the board handled this situation, it’s a wonder that any veteran coach would be interested in the job.

Let’s hope the board handles the hiring of a new football coach better than the way it did firing the old one.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached a jtuscano@observer-reporter.com Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

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