|Brad Turner leaving for Springtown|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Dec. 13, 2005 - Forced to make a decision by the Sulphur Springs school board about his future and that of the Wildcat football team, Brad Turner made up his mind on Monday.
The SSHS head football coach, and at least two of his assistants, will be going to Springtown.
The Springtown ISD Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Turner as head football coach/athletic director on Monday. He is expected to sign a contract there and submit his resignation to the SSISD this week, then begin fulltime in Springtown on Jan. 2, 2006.
Assistant coaches John Albritton and Robert Wallace will be joining him in January, as well as former SSHS assistant Scott Wells.
While Springtown has a strong football tradition, has better facilities than Sulphur Springs, and is near Turner's hometown of Weatherford, he made it clear that the decision to leave Sulphur Springs was based on the SSISD board's inaction on his contract.
Springtown Superintendent Lonnie Seipp had twice tried to hire Turner before, but he had turned them down both times. Not this time.
"I had no choice. My biggest hope is that the players and anyone else that is concerned about our program understands that it was a decision I had to make - I didn't have a choice," Turner said. "I also hope they understand that when we came here five years ago, it was with the full intent that this would be our home for a long time.
"It's been a good experience, so there's a negative that goes along with this change. It could have been avoided, but the vision or the lack of vision or whatever you want to call it didn't let that happen."
It all boils down to Turner's contract and the refusal of the SSISD board to resolve the issue.
His two-year contract was not renewed by the school board in February, despite the administration's recommendation that it be renewed. So, Turner worked this year as the final year of his contract.
The school board could have taken action on his contract at any time since February, but never did. His contract status would have come up again in February, but by that time, most of the good coaching jobs in the state are already filled. Waiting that late would also have limited SSISD's choices of a new coach.
What's more, Turner said none of the board members ever indicated to him whether his contract would or would not be renewed.
"If I had been told one way or another, then I could have made the decision last year and avoided putting my family through this," he said. "If they don't want me, that's fine, but someone should have told me face-to-face. The inability to do the right thing is the root of this decision.
"We're going to go with it, and it's going to be a great opportunity not only for my family but for all of my coaches. It's a good situation, but it doesn't change the fact that what happened here is not right. What my family had to go through for the last year was not right. Nobody else would want to go through it, either."
Turner's oldest son, Logan, a junior quarterback, will join him in Springtown in January and will play baseball and run track for the Porcupines this spring. His wife, Paula, and their other two children, SSHS freshman Lauryn and eight-year-old Landry, will stay in Sulphur Springs until their house sells.
Logan has thrown for more than 2,000 yards each of the last two years and had almost 3,000 yards of total offense this year.
Springtown is a Class 4A school north of Weatherford in Parker County. The Porcupines went two rounds deep in the playoffs this year.
"We're going to go make the best of it - it's the only way I know how to do it," Turner said. "I've got to jump in and get started, and they've got to do whatever it is they have to do here to keep the program alive and going."
Under Turner, the Wildcats compiled a 33-26 record in five years, including qualifying for the playoffs the last four years. In eight seasons as head coach (the first three at Lone Oak), Turner's overall record is 66-35.
Last year, the Wildcats won the first playoff game since 1998, and have set numerous school records in the process.
"This is about the kids. It's always been about the kids, our players, and I think the program's in better shape than when we came here," he said. "We've certainly had some success. We've sent a lot of kids to college, we've won a lot of games, we've been to the playoffs four years in a row, and we've had only one varsity kid be ineligible in five years during football season.
"We've done some good things, and I think we've touched a lot of kids lives. People probably don't realize that this program probably reaches out to more kids than any other in the district. We have 400 kids, and I don't know any other that has 400 in it, maybe the band. I feel like we've made a difference in a lot of kids lives, and I know they've made a difference in mine."