The following From the Sidelines column appeared in the January 22, 2020 print edition of the News Journal…
Much has certainly been said about Justin Haddix leaving Corbin for Boyle County since the news broke this past Sunday evening, so allow me to weigh in on the situation myself.
There appears to be people on both sides of the issue – those who are sad to see Haddix go, and those who are actually pleased with this development. Personally, I put myself in the first group. I mean, here is a guy who came in six years ago and immediately started winning. Almost all he did was win while he was here. Five straight years advancing to at least the regional finals, four straight in the state semifinals and back-to-back appearances in state championship games? That’s pretty darn impressive if you ask me.
Now, I am aware that there are two sides to every coin, and I don’t know the details of every interaction and/or conversation that has taken place behind the scenes, but speaking strictly from a spectator’s point of view, what more could you ask for as a fan of Redhound football? The only way things could have been any better would be if the team had actually brought home at least one state championship title, but let’s face facts… at the end of the season there are only two teams left standing in each class. For two years in a row in Class 3A, one of those teams was Corbin. All those young men got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play on Kroger Field at the University of Kentucky, and a lot of that was because of who their head coach was.
Even if you are a person who, for whatever reason, has some bad feelings toward Justin Haddix, I still think you have to put that aside long enough to at least admit the guy did great things for Redhound football since he came on the scene back in 2014.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Looking back on the past six years I think it is safe to say that the “Haddix Hounds” were at their best when the head coach was supported by a veteran cast of assistants. The staffs that led Corbin to the state finals in 2017 and 2018 were loaded with former coordinator and/or head coaching experience. These were guys who knew their stuff, and although the on-field talent was there as well, nobody can deny the extraordinary coaching efforts that took place with Haddix leading the way as the man in charge.
Of course, Haddix didn’t get to where he is – state champion QB, high-level college QB, head football coach – without possessing a great deal of knowledge in the game himself. That goes without saying, but in my opinion, I think that his greatest strengths have always been his ability to a) inspire his players, and b) generate excitement about his program.
If you have followed this man on social media at all over the past six years, then you know he is constantly coming up with hashtags, slogans and rallying cries that his teams can shout from sidelines, that fans can wear on t-shirts and that cheerleaders can paint on gigantic banners. He is also constantly sharing stories of successes not only on Friday nights, but on the practice field and in the weight room as well.
Haddix has done a fantastic job of bringing in college coaches from not only this state, but from all over the place to have looks at Redhound players. He has had no shortage of athletes sign to play at the next level, and regardless of whether or not they went on to complete an entire college football career, he still helped them to at least get there. As far as I’m concerned, once that happens a high school coach’s job is pretty much done. It’s up to the individual player to decide whether or not they want to follow through. Some make it, some don’t. There’s nothing wrong with it either way, but what more can a high school coach do than make sure his kids are getting the opportunities to make those kinds of decisions?
Predictions for the future at Boyle, and beyond
Realistically, I don’t think anyone can fault Justin Haddix for wanting to take a job as the head coach of the Boyle County Rebels, even if he’s leaving a place like Corbin to do so. Let’s face it, this is “Title Town” we’re talking about. Boyle presents a GREAT opportunity for anyone that is serious about building a successful coaching resume, which Haddix clearly is.
I think Corbin’s now-former head football coach is going to a place where they will spare no expense (within reason, of course) to make sure that he is set up for success. The Rebels had a great shot at winning a Class 4A title this past season, and I fully expect them to be right back in the championship hunt again in 2020.
But do I think that Haddix will stay at Boyle County forever? No, of course not. I believe this is a guy who wants to continue moving up the ladder. Depending on how things go, leading the Rebs may very well be his last stop in the high school ranks. I would not be surprised at all to see him on a college sideline at some point in the relatively near future. Perhaps within the next 5-6 years.
Next steps for Corbin
Of course, a hiring process is already underway to find the next head coach of the Redhounds football program. I’m sure that school administrators will look at a bunch of resumes, they’ll conduct several interviews, and eventually we will be introduced to the person tasked with advancing this team and keeping them competitive in the years to come.
As for who that person will be, one can only speculate at this time. There are certainly no shortage of local names that come to mind when considering potential candidates, and at least one or two of those are on staff at Corbin already, but I think looking outside our area again would be the best bet. Not that someone already here wouldn’t be able to handle the job, I’m not saying that at all, but who knows how many coaches from outside our tri-county area will be interested in taking on this head coaching job? It’s Corbin football after all, so my assumption is there will be a long list of talented and knowledgeable individuals all vying to fill this vacancy.
Ultimately, I look forward to working with whomever is named as the next head coach of the Redhounds football team. I also enjoyed my time working with Coach Haddix, and I wish him well in the next phase of his football career.
One thing is certain, and that is this – no one person will ever be bigger than Corbin football. There have been many great coaches through the years, and I’m sure there will be many more to come. Same can be said of the young men on the field.
Coaching and playing talent will come and go. The most important thing for Big Red Nation is that the people in those positions do their best to carry on the winning tradition of this program while they are there. I feel like Justin Haddix definitely did that, and he should be commended accordingly.