Fans, community must join new era

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Many sports fans are, by the sheer nature of the games, hopeless dreamers who are always considering the “what ifs” of the sports they love.

“What if Michael Jordan missed the infamous shot for North Carolina in the 1982 NCAA national championship?”

“What if Maurice Clarett had kept his head on straight and played four years as an Ohio State Buckeye?”

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“What if Ken Griffey Jr. had been healthy during his time with the Cincinnati Reds?”

The possibilities are endless and not just limited to professional or college athletics. In fact, local high school sports may generate some of the most tantalizing questions.

Following recent weeks of turmoil within the Ironton High School football program, many fans may be tempted to look back and ask, “What if legendary coach Bob Lutz had decided to stay?”

And it is OK, as fans, to ask these questions but the bottom line is that Lutz didn’t — and it is a disservice to the student athletes that are working hard for the upcoming season to dwell on what might have been.

Some will say that the school board and administration didn’t do enough, soon enough, to keep Lutz. Maybe they did and maybe they didn’t.

As the battles waged on, it appeared the board and the administration made efforts to work together and focus on the needs of the team. The door was left open for Lutz to return but it apparently was not meant to be.

While school officials could have likely handled things better during the process, the outcome should be supported by the community: Staffing changes moved one individual who was blamed — rightly or wrongly — for some of the problems, one of the two top coaching candidates took over as athletic director and the other was given the reins of the program.

Now is time to look past the “what ifs” and focus on the “what could be” scenarios under new head coach Merril Triplett, a man with a proven record but will still need Tiger pride to fill the stands each Friday.

We urge all Tiger fans, community members and football fanatics to start looking toward the future rather than dwelling in the past.

Bob Lutz helped build Ironton’s football tradition. Nothing can ever change that, but now is time for a new chapter, a new era.

Merril Triplett, his coaches and each and every one of the players will give their all for the team and the program. School pride must shine through so that no one will be able to ask, “What if the fans did the same?”