I’ll say this much for new Loganville head football coach Brad Smith: He’s paid his dues.
Since graduating from Loganville in 2004 and four years later from the University of Georgia, he’s coached at a half dozen high schools, mostly in the north Georgia mountains.
The Red Devils alum finally reached the figurative mountain top last week when he returned home to lead the program for which he once played. Coaching at your alma mater, it doesn’t get any better, so some say. We’ll see.
Certainly, things are off to an inauspicious start. The timing of both the firing of the Red Devils’ previous coach and the hiring of the new guy has been unfortunate.
Mike Humphreys was let go nearly three months after he coached what turned out to be his final game for Loganville. Six weeks later, his replacement was named. Already behind the timeline in preparing for a new year, recent events have conspired to make things even more difficult.
You might have heard that coronavirus has turned our normal lives upside down, forcing the closing of schools and businesses, disrupting travel and leaving most of us isolated in our homes.
Of much lesser consequence has been the halt and possible end of sports seasons on all levels. While the prep football season is still half a year away, offseason workouts never end and spring practice, at least for teams who still choose to hold it, is just weeks away.
Barring a major downtown in the epidemiologic curve, both are on hold.
For those programs with established head coaches, the loss of workouts and practice time won’t be as difficult to overcome. For those programs breaking in a new coach, it’s a major setback.
Smith is no stranger to Loganville, but he is an unknown to his returning players. Meeting and developing relationships are as important to a winning program as is strength and conditioning and installing offensive and defensive schemes.
Unfortunately, neither will be happening, at least for the foreseeable future.
One thing Smith can do is assemble his new coaching staff. Whether he’ll be able to make wholesale changes, or will even want to, remains to be seen. Most intriguing is what he’ll do with the defensive coordinator he inherited.
B.J. Smith has been a longtime Loganville assistant. But he’s also been a longtime dad to the new head coach. Fathers coaching their sons and even hiring them as coaches is a common practice. Not so much to other way around.
It’s just another of the many challenges the Red Devils new head coach faces, as if turning around a program that’s stumbled the past couple of seasons wasn’t daunting enough.
Here’s hoping this pandemic blows over quickly and Smith can begin to make up for lost time.