Patrick Graham is the owner of The Walton Tribune, The Covington News, The Sand Mountain Reporter (Albertville, Alabama), Times-Journal (Fort Payne, Alabama) and Jackson County Sentinel (Scottsboro, Alabama). He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.

Dan Dolan

Dan Dolan, head of school at George Walton Academy, watches commencement exercises May 22, 2021, at Don Williams Stadium in Monroe, Ga. He was dismissed six days later.

It’s not about the fire; it’s about the hire.

As many of you you probably already know by now, I always apply sports analogies — and whenever possible, Alabama football analogies — to every situation possible.

Nothing brought home the truth of the lede sentence to this column more than when the University of Alabama fired head football coach Mike Shula in late 2006 and hired then Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban in early 2007 to replace him.

There were many an Alabama fan who bemoaned the Crimson Tide letting Shula go. Shula was an alum and former player, was the third coach in a six-month span at the time he was hired, got us through five years of probation without further incident (which honestly was his main job), and even produced a 10-win season in the middle of all of that.

How could the university just send him packing?

Then the university announced Saban as Shula’s replacement, and well, a lot of that bemoaning went away. Like, immediately.

And the rest as they say is history.

It’s not about the fire; it’s about the hire.

George Walton Academy is about to find that out.

If I’m being honest, there has been more support shown for Dan Dolan and his time as headmaster at George Walton Academy since his departure was announced than I anticipated. He never struck me as a particularly great fit, ran off a number of top-flight members of the faculty and severly bruised relationships the school had with some important donors and parts of the community.

And that’s being kind.

At the end of the day, the specific reason the school parted ways with Dolan will never be known. And honestly, it’s not that important. The fact of the matter is Dolan lost the confidence of a majority of the school’s board and as a result the board made the decision to go in a different direction. It’s really that simple.

Now comes the hire.

What if, for example, the school hires someone like, I don’t know, former Walton County schools Superintendent Gary Hobbs to be the new headmaster at George Walton? I’m just spitballing here, not throwing that name out there based on any conversations I’ve had with anyone in a position to make the decision, but what a home run hire that would be.

In fact, making a hire like that would put the Dolan era in the rear-view mirror pretty quickly, I would think. Like, immediately.

Put it to you this way, it’s been a lot of years since I’ve heard any Alabama fans tearily pining away for the Shula era.

Know what I mean?

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