View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 5/11

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: May 11, 2012 - 6:36 AM

Coaching changes are a part of every offseason. Some retire, some step down to spend more time with their families, some take jobs outside of coaching, some take other coaching jobs and unfortunately some are not retained by their administration.
This year it seems like there are a lot of changes on both sides of the state line. Maybe it’s not any more than usual but it just feels like more.
This week we saw Aaron Barnett step down at Shawnee Mission Northwest after six years leading the Cougars. Barnett did a good job but he is taking an administrative job in the district. Congrats to him. I know coaching is a passion for him but this new challenge should also be rewarding.
Personally I hate to see Barnett and coaches like him go. No matter what the reason coaches who work hard, care about kids and are passionate about the sport are always hard to lose. Barnett was always easy to deal with and his teams played tough football and always seemed to be better at the end of the season than at the beginning.
When I told a media friend of Barnett’s departure he said he wasn’t surprised, not that Barnett left but that coaches don’t stay in the job for 20 or 30 years. He said they burn out these days.
I don’t know if “Burn Out” is the best way to characterize the trend but the 30-year coach is definitely becoming a thing of the past. Oak Park’s Keith Ross retired this year and outside of Tony Severino at Rockhurst it is now hard to find a coach that has been a head coach at his school for more than 15 years or so.
It’s easy to roll out the usual suspects. You hear parents are different. Some administrations want winners faster. Some say coaches don’t have the desire to stay in the job for long periods of time. Or finally the expanded media coverage of the sport has made it tougher on coaches to grow into their jobs or they face more scrutiny about wins and losses.
Media coverage, parents, administrations and other outside factors all might have something to do with it. I think that football coaches are just people like the rest of us. The days of staying at your job for 30 years and getting that gold watch are long gone. Whether it’s your company’s decision or your own, you and I tend to move around more.
Coaches are just the same. They are now able to stay at a job as long as they like and then explore other opportunities when they come. Some decide that the many hours committed to a football program while rewarding are not as rewarding as spending that time with their family.
Even though I lament coaches like Barnett stepping away from the profession I know there are plenty of young coaches ready to take their place and make positive impacts on the players and sport they coach.
Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to