|Smith’s tenure with Rebel baseball forced to early end |
|Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 7:00 pm |
| By MIKE HUTCHENS |
Messenger Sports Editor
With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, Obion County Central has made a change at the head of its baseball program.
Second-year head coach Chris Smith was relieved of his duties Monday and assistant Justin Truett was elevated to interim head coach for the remainder of the year and the postseason.
OCCHS Athletic Director Craig Rogers — who, along with ex-head coach Russ Davis was to join Truett’s staff for the remainder of the season — confirmed the news, saying: “We just didn’t think he (Smith) was fulfilling his obligations as head baseball coach.”
Rogers would not go into specifics of the decision, but did say there were no major incidents involving the 25-year-old Smith.
“It wasn’t one thing in particular, probably more like a combination of things,” Rogers said. “We just felt like we needed to address some of the issues that were brought to us by players, parents and other people. But to say it was just one thing, it wasn’t.”
Smith, who’d resigned his duties as an assistant football coach at OC back in February, has already agreed to become the offensive coordinator at Bolivar Central, beginning this fall.
He was told of the change in leadership at a Monday morning meeting.
“I knew earlier I wasn’t coming back next year as a teacher and coach to the Obion County School System, but it was important to me and to my integrity that I finish out the contract that I’d signed which ran through the school year and the baseball season,” Smith said in an afternoon interview. “And I felt like I gave 100 percent to both of those responsibilities and will continue to in my classroom duties. I’m proud of my teacher evaluations here in my two years.
“I never cheated the kids. And I left the baseball program in far better shape than when I inherited it.”
Smith listed a new windscreen, added backstop and the start of the program’s booster club as improvements made during his tenure.
On the field, the Rebels were 6-11 this season before Monday’s game at Ripley.
Last year, OC posted a 14-18 record in his rookie year, winning three games in the district tournament for the first time since 1997.
Central has not had a winning record in baseball since the 2004 campaign.
Rogers, who was the head coach at Dresden during the mid-1990s, said Truett “will be the decision-maker” for the program the rest of the season with he and Davis serving in support roles in the Rebel program.
For his part, Davis, the assistant principal at the Career Technology Center, said he had no interest in taking back full-time a job he had for three years from 2008-10.
“They asked me if I’d help them get through the rest of the season, and I told them I would,” he said.
“It’s my opinion that it’s not a good fit for anyone in a supervisory capacity.”
Bolivar head football coach Keith Perry said the news would have no affect on Smith’s future status with his program.
“I don’t know anything about Obion County. … I’ve never worked or lived there,” Perry said. “I know that if you base your evaluation strictly off everybody’s past, you’ll miss out on some good people. The people here at Bolivar probably would’ve missed out on me if that were the case.
“What I know about Chris is that he’s a positive, knowledgeable, passionate person who will be a welcome addition to our staff and our faculty. I offered him our job at the semester and wanted him to come then, but out of his loyalty to Obion and the baseball program, he was insistent that he go back and take care of the business he’d signed on for. You don’t see that type of loyalty much anymore, and I was impressed.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published in The Messenger 4.17.12