Posted: 2:14 pm Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
By Matt Porter
Apparently, not everyone is excited about seeing two local teams battle on national television.
In an extremely candid interview with the Post this morning, Park Vista coach Brian Dodds had no problem expressing his feeling on Dwyer and Glades Central’s Labor Day showdown.
When talking about his team and several others in a 30-minute interview, Dodds was asked for a scouting report on Dwyer. He didn’t want to talk about Xs and Os.
Dodds said the national exposure that comes with ESPN’s coverage of the game, which will be played at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5., makes Dwyer even more of a name school that players want to attend.
Without faulting Dwyer — “If we had a chance to [play on national TV], we would” — Dodds said ESPN’s spotlight encourages players across the nation to want to play for Dwyer, further skewing the playing field.
“It’s a recruiting tool,” Dodds said.
Dwyer, which like many programs has had numerous players come and go, received a high-profile transfer this offseason in Brooklyn-born quarterback Faton Bauta, whose family moved to the area in January. Several other starters on this year’s team are transfers from other schools, as were former standouts Matt Elam (Florida) and Nick O’Leary (Florida State).
The school will be on ESPN for the second Labor Day in a row – last year, the Panthers traveled to Columbus, Ohio to play powerhouse Cleveland-Glenville. Glades Central played an ESPN-televised game in Byrnes, S.C. in 2006.
Here are Dodds’ comments in full:
What do you know about Dwyer this year?
For me, personally, and I’m telling you this straight out, and I don’t care where you put it: I hate these big-time games they’re putting on Monday, because it makes teams like Dwyer better. It doesn’t give any other team the chance to compete on the big stage. Dwyer’s going to continually get great players because they’re on TV. It really bothers me.
[Dwyer coach] Jack [Daniels] has done a great job with that program, but it’s gone too far. It’s totally gone too far. If everybody had an opportunity to play on national TV, that’s a different story. Or, if the program was on once every few years. But when you’re on every year, every single year, they’re continually getting those great players from other areas. There’s no question. How many transfers did they have in this year?
At least five that will start. If you count starters who have transferred in the past three seasons, seven.
Out of 22 positions. That’s a third of the team.
I am totally over it. I think it’s totally wrong. I think our county should discontinue it. I don’t think any team in our county should be playing in those games. Period. If it’s something that’s once every few years, I think that’s OK. But not every year.
Because what’s happening is Dwyer’s going to continually get players from out of state. It’s become a recruiting [tool] for them now. People will move out of state just to get into Dwyer’s district because they’re on national TV. That’s recruiting. You know darn well I’m right. That really good kid who moved down here, he moved here because they’re on national TV, they’re a name, the whole deal.
Are you faulting Dwyer for that?
I’m not saying it’s Dwyer’s fault. If kids are coming to us, you’re darn sure I’d want ‘em. You know that. What I’m saying is, if that’s the case that Dwyer and Glades Central and whoever are on national TV year in and year out … you know it gets old. It gets old from the people who don’t have five of the top 150 in the nation on their team. It gets old. There are a lot of coaches in our county who work their butts off to go out and compete on the field, when it’s totally stacked in [Dwyer's] way. It’s not right.
Glades Central has also been on TV in the past.
Where’d they get the money to pay for it?
Off the top of my head, I don’t know. I do know that Dwyer’s trip to Ohio was paid for by the marketing company that put on their game.
That’s what I’m getting at. These are high schools, just like us. I’m not blaming Dwyer, because I think, shoot, if we had a chance, we would do it. But that aspect has got out of control. They’re only selecting teams that the programs are well known, and all that’s going to happen is they’re going to continually get better from that. It’s not a fair playing field for everyone else in the area. It’s not. It’s just not.
We’re not college. In college, everyone has a chance to recruit. If everyone has a chance to recruit kids into their schools, great, let’s do it. But we’re on the same playing field, supposedly, going in. That is an aspect that gets them players. They’re not doing anything wrong. Dwyer’s not doing anything wrong. But this is an aspect that gets them players. Top-notch players, in the country. I mean, think about it, Matt. I’ve been coaching a lot time now, 24 years in the county, and I don’t remember having a top notch – look, Tre Mason is about as good as it gets, and what was he ranked in the nation? You know? They’ve had 5 of the top 50 in the nation in the last few years.
In fairness, most of the kids they’ve had were from North County. They had one kid move in from New York.
I guarantee, those big ones didn’t live in Dwyer’s district growing up. I know that for a fact. I’m not saying all of them. Elam was at Lakes, you can go on and on.
Most of their good players did not start at Dwyer. Because of the national attention – Jack was good before the national attention. They had good teams before that. But now with the national exposure, it’s become were they’re beyond. No one can compete anymore. It used to be that you can go in, once in a while you could compete. And actually, when I was in their district, we defeated them back in 2001, and they were No. 1 in the state. They were still very, very good, but not nationally ranked-good at the time, I don’t think. They were still very, very good, one of the best programs in our area. Now it’s become, because of the national exposure, it’s taken it to a whole ‘nother level.
Do you think they should do away with high school football games on ESPN?
If they want to put state finals on, I have no problem with that. Once you get to the regional finals, if you want to put those on, why not do that? That’s fine. Nationally televised games, I do not agree with. Nationally televised 7-on-7 crap, I do not agree with that at all. I do not think players should be leaving our state and playing 7-on-7 in the summer. I don’t think that’s right. This is high school football. High school.
See, what’s happening is people are continually letting things go, and eventually, it’s going to be bad. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse. This is not college football. It’s becoming college football for high schools, and they’re bending the rules so much that it’s out of control. Just let the kids play. If it’s a local tournament – let’s say we want to have a cross-county showdown at the beginning of the year, and local TV wants to do it, fine. But it doesn’t need to be national.
There’s a demand for it, I guess. A lot of people are looking forward to this game.
Who? I don’t. I’m worried about my program.
Well, you’re a football coach of a non-involved team.
I’m worried about my kids wanting to go to Dwyer. I’m worried about my kids wanting to go to one of the programs that are playing in these games. That’s what I’m worried about.
If I ever get a really, really great player – Tre Mason, last year, those kids at Dwyer were trying to convince him to go to Dwyer, because he was really good friends with them. He played in 7-on-7s with them, he was really good friends with them. He stayed with us, but I’m saying, at one time they were trying to get him to go there.
They do know each other from camps, tournaments, and so on.
Yes! Yes. You see my point? I’m not the only coach who feels that way. I’m just saying, when you’re trying to make a good program – and there are elite programs, no question about that. Dwyer’s an elite program – the national exposure, on TV, is going a little bit too far.
The company that works for ESPN, Paragon Marketing, has told us they wanted to do this game to showcase the ‘aura of the Muck,’ and high school football in Belle Glade, the hometown of Santonio Holmes and Fred Taylor.
Well, then why wouldn’t they do Pahokee-Glades Central…?
That’s a bunch of crap. You know darn well. That’s crap. They’re looking for the nationally ranked teams. If they wanted to come down here and do a great rivalry, there are plenty of great rivalries in our county. Plenty of great rivalries. But they’re not going to do that. They want the big time players, they want national [interest]. Then it all filters down.
Glad you shared your perspective on this, Brian.
Look, I love football, so much. I’ve loved it my whole life. But it’s got to the point where it’s becoming so bad … I don’t even know the word, everybody feels entitled now. Because of the media, because of everything else. Whatever you would write down with my comments, people are going to say ‘Well, that’s because Dodds can’t coach, he’ll never have a big-time player, that’s why he feels that way.’ That’s just how people are. They’re just ignorant. They really are, when it comes to understanding the whole concept of what’s going on. This is high school football. Friday Night Lights, when you look at that movie, that’s where it gets out of control. Teams in Texas are building teams that are better than colleges, that to me is out of control.
We had a very good, very athletic team last year, and we couldn’t get on the field with Dwyer. Atlantic had a very athletic team last year, and they couldn’t compete with Dwyer. You want to be able to compete. It’s beyond … I don’t even know the word. I just know how hard I work to build this program. I know that we’re in the weight room four days a week in the offseason, we go to camps, we do the whole deal, just like everybody else in our county. It’s really sad when other programs have more – they’re working as hard as us, we’re working as hard as them – but yet they get more because of exposure. And that’s wrong. That’s why I feel that way.
Dwyer says it can’t stop players from wanting to play there …
Oh, I know. I told you that. I don’t hold them [at fault]. They’re fine. I would do the same. If I was in their shoes, I would want the best kids at our school, if they come in the right way, which they are. They’re not doing anything wrong.
But what I’m saying is the exposure is helping their program, and nobody else is getting the exposure to help their programs. We’re not college, where we can go out and promote our programs. That’s not legal. And they’re not doing it either – they have ESPN doing it for them.