, Muskogee, OK

December 23, 2013

Memo to MPS: Your AD search should stay near home

Associated Press

— So, it goes, Muskogee Public Schools is on a national search for an athletic director — search firm in place and all.

National in this case, can mean Kansas. Arkansas is 60 miles away too. And even Texas is not international, contrary to the opinion of some.

National seems pretty ambitious though. Anyone looked at DeLoss Dodds? And, excuse me, Josh Blankenship, for asking your bosses, but would Mack Brown come with him?

Sure, there may be a candidate in a place like Fayetteville, Ark., who would be familiar enough with the topography, climate and even the town. There may be someone out there who has Okie roots who longs for home.

But otherwise, a national search is a dice-roller of sorts, or perhaps a label designed for image purposes. Several years back, mighty Union tried that and wanted to replace Bill Blankenship by searching the swamps of Florida, the steel mills of the Midwest, and by golly found an Indiana guy. Kevin Wright lasted one year at Union and by golly, Kevin, Muskogee misses you. That two-game sweep Roughers enjoyed was a welcome sight here.

Word was, Union was missing those Okie roots. They parted ways with Wright and brought in Kirk Fridrich. All that did was net four consecutive championships from 2008-2011 and a spot in the finals the last two seasons.

The local leaders might take a hint from that. Furthermore, I have a suggestion of sorts. But heck, I recommended that someone lock the guy who used to have this job along with the superintendent in a room (I should have added a board member or two and an administrator) until they all came out singing Kumbaya and well, we know how that worked out.

But if you fail, try, try again.

My suggestion: Don’t look outside Muskogee. Your hire is right here.

Not that either has applied, but a good search firm finds the right candidate.

Specifically, I suggest Bill Huddleston or Terry Scott.

First, Huddleston.

The radio voice of the Roughers has a marketing background. He helped sell the revenue-producing name tweak to Indian Bowl, and if you don’t know it, money is important to an athletic program.  

Bill bleeds Rougher green and in that regard, could sell every sport without the contention of a bias toward one or another sport being tossed at him. He’s also respected in high school sporting circles.

Is he a former coach? No, but that’s probably a good thing. Whoever gets this job needs to be market savvy. Huddleston’s roots here would carry with it a huge public relations advantage.

Second, but not necessarily in that order, Scott.

The former Muskogee boys basketball coach retired in part because he couldn’t retain a related administrative job he had that was no longer going to be available. He had a successful three-year run here with two state tournament appearances.

The biggest strength of Scott is his people skills. He has the coaching background Huddleston doesn’t, but he wouldn’t have a primary embrace with basketball. His previous background at Tulsa Central helps him understand some of the identity here and he’s also a man of integrity, is well-liked and while he doesn’t have marketing in his background, he has the charm necessary in people skills to ring in support.

There. I trust the search firm will get to work and not let the work come to it. Would they take it? Who knows.

But then, maybe DeLoss wants a quaint place to retire. He does have the experience of dealing with politics.