Valdosta High, nation’s winningest football program, will not renew contract of head coach

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Valdosta High School, which has the nation’s winningest football program, will not be welcoming back its head coach for next season.

Valdosta dropped a 57-15 decision to crosstown rival Lowndes last weekend. Wildcats coach Rick Tomberlin was told late Tuesday his contract would not be renewed for the 2010 season by Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Bill Cason, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“I’m in shock,” Tomberlin told the Valdosta newspaper. “I did everything I could do here. I’ve never worked harder in my life. I haven’t missed many days of school. I’ve made some wonderful friends here. A lot of people have been very kind to me. I think I’m leaving (the program) a lot better than it was when I got here.”

Tomberlin was given the option of resigning immediately or finishing out the season. He has decided to stay on with the Wildcats, who are 4-3 and still have a chance of earning a berth in the Class AAAAA playoffs. Tomberlin’s dismissal still must go through several other steps, including a vote by the board of education. However, the rest of the process is considered to be a mere formality.

“I want to finish the season … I don’t want to quit on my kids. I owe it to them, and love them, and I want to see them through whatever happens, whether it’s the end of the regular season, or the end of the playoffs, whether it’s three games, five games, eight games, whatever the case may be,” Tomberlin told the Valdosta paper.

“I’m really going to work hard these next three games. Nothing’s going to change. I’m going to help these kids all I can with scholarships and colleges.”

Tomberlin is 19-20 at Valdosta, including a 1-9 mark in his first season at the school in 2006. Tomberlin was hired away from Washington County, where he coached for 14 years and won three state championships.

Since 1913, Valdosta has won six mythical national championships and 23 state championships. The Wildcats have an overall record of 838 wins, 191 losses and 34 ties.

So what do YOU think? Did Valdosta pull the trigger too soon on Tomberlin? Or do you think he had already been given a fair chance to prove his value?

And will Valdosta — which won its last state championship in 1998 — ever be able to return to its glory days?

245 comments Add your comment

Mustang

October 14th, 2009
8:12 am

They need to realize that Lowndes has overtaken them and move on. The talent is at Lowndes and not Valdosta. Those people need to wake up and smell the coffee. The fired O’Brien and he went to woodstock and won a bunch of games. Is it coaching or a lack of talent?

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

October 14th, 2009
8:16 am

Valdosta needs to expand the city limits

hop

October 14th, 2009
8:17 am

they need to hire buck belue as their coach, since he knows so much about football if you don’t believe he does just ask him!

Dacula

October 14th, 2009
8:19 am

Coaching is overrated. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter because a good coach can make a difference. However, just look at a school like Buford. Jess Simpson was a head coach at East Paulding for 1 year and he went 0-10. He goes to Buford where they have more talent than everyone and he wins state championships. Same thing here. Tomberlin had more talent than everyone at Washington County and looked like a genius as a coach. When you don’t have the players, you don’t look as smart. You can’t win the Kentucky Derby on a mule. I’m not saying Valdosta doesn’t have good players because I really have no idea. I just know what John Wooden said and the 3 biggest keys to being successful: “Talent, talent, and talent.”

Gary3294

October 14th, 2009
8:24 am

When you have a coach who has won 3 state championships I think you have to look at other factors for Valdosta’s problems. Sounds like someone has over reacted to a bad loss ( sound familiar UGA fans). All this is telling future coaches is winning is everything even in high school. Why would any coach want to go there now.

richtfan

October 14th, 2009
8:26 am

valdosta is no longer a dominant program. lowndes is cleaning their clock because it’s simply their time. valdosta needs to accept that they have regressed and that things have changed.

ATL Dawg

October 14th, 2009
8:28 am

Dacula,

You are correct on one thing – you have no clue. I have watched every game Tomberlin has coached at Valdosta. He has had some major talent on the teams he has coached evidenced by the number of scholarships his kids have signed – more so than Lowndes. You CANNOT blame it on lack of talent – especially when you have not seen Valdosta play. He was so far in over his head it was almost a joke. He has improved the overall program at Valdosta becasue the coach before him – Darlington – was an even bigger joke. Darlington is one that left the program in shambles. Valdosta still has many capable athletes and will rise again once the right man is in charge. If you truly have watched Valdosta play every game I have seen since 1979, then you have no reason to give your opinion whthout seeing what is truly is going on here in Valdosta. I promise you the talent is there.

Craig

October 14th, 2009
8:32 am

Valdosta is a victim of changing demographics. The county population has been expanding while the city has remained stagnant which gives them a smaller pool of talent to choose from. Expanding the city limits would be tough because the schools are less than 5 miles apart from each other

coachwam

October 14th, 2009
8:41 am

What a shame!!!! Valdosta needs to stay the course. No program can be successful it you are going to make a change every three or four years. Coach T is a very hard worker and has tons of football knowledge. Valdosta can start over but soon no coach in America will want to come to Valdosta.

Reformed Bulldog Fan

October 14th, 2009
8:41 am

Valdosta is like UGA, they think they are supposed to win the “national championship” every year, regardless and if they don’t it is someone else’s fault. I think Craig is correct. Lowndes is getting the talent and Valdosta is meeting its Waterloo. Time will tell the truth.

eBuzz

October 14th, 2009
8:50 am

First posting did not appear to go through. Pardon me if this is a repeat.

At about 1800 students Valdosta has to compete against schools like Lowndes with 3200 students at the AAAAA level. Given the number of fine coaches (and coaching DOES make a difference regardless of what some would like to think), it is difficult to consistently be successful against larger talent pools. Unlike the Warner-Robins schools on occasion, Valdosta appears to proud to step down to the AAAA level. Only Marist, a AA school competing at the AAAA level has been able to consistently and successfully compete again much larger schools, but they do not have district boundaries and good athletes are drawn toward them because of their success and the quality of their coaching, not to mention their high academic standards. Although I am not a Valdosta native, I played college ball with some of their very fine alumni, and I tremendously admire their program. I wish them well in the future.

Who cares?

October 14th, 2009
8:52 am

Firing a Coach in mid-season for losing a few games? Give me a break. It’s a GAME. It’s upposed to be FUN and it’s supposed to be FOR THE KIDS, not middle-aged men. I continue to be amazed at the number of former jocks who relive the high point in their lives by pereverating over high school and college football. Grow up, guys. If you put half as much energy into your family and your job, you’d be way better off. High School is a long way back in your past. Time to dial inot the present.

AFAN

October 14th, 2009
8:53 am

At the time when they fired O’brien I think he was averaging 9 wins a season…and because he had not won a State Championship he was deemed a failure.

I guess it doesn’t matter that the days are over when they controlled every kid in the entire county and red-shirted every 8th grader…many of those State Championships were won in an era of slightly different rules…sort of like the old Alabama days when Bear would sign 140 kids just to keep them away from other schools.

JSS

October 14th, 2009
8:54 am

Valdosta is getting what they deserve! For years they were the Alabama of GA HS (lie, cheat, and steal)… Now they are as delusional as the Georgia Bulldogs, yes you have talent; still there are just better combination of coaching styles to the types of players in the system. Anybody who saw Tombelin’s WCHS teams knew what you’d be facing. From the Edwards boys to their tough defenses, that is not Valdosta football. Oh by the way, ATL Dawg, you are a step away from becoming like Lanier/Central in Macon, an afterthought in GHSA history. Find a coach that can do more with less and then stick with them for 6 years. Stop undermining and get a handle on the crazies in the Wildcat World Conspiracy.. That is where the problem exists.

Oh, any HS school that wants a tough nosed coach and you don’t have a crazy fan base and don’t expect a futuristic offense, Rick Tomberlin is a fine choice.

dooley

October 14th, 2009
8:55 am

Valdosta is basically getting what they deserve. I played against them in the late 80’s. They are a racist town. When we (Carver-Columbus) beat them in 88 they threatened to fire the great Nick Hyder because he lost to a black school. We were spit on and subject to all sorts of racial comments the next year when we went back.

tankandtank

October 14th, 2009
8:57 am

they should have waited until the end of the season

tankandtank

October 14th, 2009
8:58 am

do they have someone in mind to replace him that is better?

Kay

October 14th, 2009
8:59 am

The demographics of Valdosta have changed, just like most towns.
Lowndes Co. has a bigger, more supportive pool of students to draw from.
Valdosta is like most inner cities.
Won’t matter who the coach is, Lowndes Co. will win.

SouthGARules

October 14th, 2009
9:07 am

Does this surprise me? NO. This is typical Valdosta. Where else have you seen a coach go 17-3 (Charles Greene) & get run. Getting the worst beat down to your arch rival will get you run.
AFAN: O’Brien won a state title in 1998, beating A. J. Suggs & McEachern.
Good luck in finding a coach!

Dentster

October 14th, 2009
9:12 am

I agree, expand the city limits. The best talent lives outside those city limits and attend rival Lowndes. The glory days are over. Sure, they may make the playoffs from time to time but never another State Championship.

EagleNationRising

October 14th, 2009
9:14 am

Michael, you and Todd Holcomb continue to display a lack of understanding about what football is south of the Gnat line. Football is EVERYTHING. I have said for a week that the Lowndes County game was a “must-win” situation for the Wildcats. I know that Todd Holcomb says that Rick Tomberlin is a nice guy. I would agree with that. That does not change a 1-3 Region 1-AAAAA record.

Todd wrote a story about Valdosta playing the toughest part of their schedule. That does not matter to the people at Valdosta. Valdosta expects to be the tough opponent on everyone’s schedule. Valdosta plays the same schedule that everyone else does in Region 1-AAAAA. Everyone has to compete.

I believe the problem at Valdosta is who is competing? You do not give up over 50 points if your kids are competiting. I saw it with my own eyes in the 2008 Northside-Valdosta game at McConnell-Talbert Stadium. The Wildcats clearly quit. They had to quit on Friday night.

It is unacceptable. When this happens, it falls to the head coach. It is that simple. Metro Atlanta programs may simply blame the kids. At major programs, the responsibility falls to the head coach, who is also compensated more than any teacher at the school. Valdosta has fielded competitive basketball teams. Why can’t Rick Tomberlin compete in football? The guy can obviously coach. He has 3 State Championships. He also has a sub-0.500 record at Valdosta. As I said throughout the last week, the Rick Tomberlin era is over. That was obvious.

Billy H8r

October 14th, 2009
9:15 am

“Darlington – was an even bigger joke. Darlington is one that left the program in shambles”
You Valdosta people are strange folk. Darlington won before he got to vhs. He won at vhs. He has continued winning since returning to Florida, while sending kids to Michigan, Notre Dame, etc. Blame him all you want but the proof is in the pudding and you vhs people are like Bama fans–stuck on ancient history. The only difference is that Bama, Lowndes and Darlington are all winning while punks like you are stuck in Loserville.

Sav

October 14th, 2009
9:17 am

A lot of people on here are right LOwndes county is bigger and when people are moving to Valdosta they are moving into the county. PLaying in AAAAA they are playing against teams that have far more depth just because of the number of kids they have. I know that they won’t, but maybe Valdosta should consider moving down to AAAA. They could possibly be more competitive in AAAA

Lowndes now own Valdosta!

October 14th, 2009
9:18 am

They own them with the football team and the band. The best band in the state!

godogssicem

October 14th, 2009
9:18 am

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy…

secondguesser

October 14th, 2009
9:19 am

Not surprising! The arrogance of these people is laughable. So it’s all the coaches fault. Get over it! The seventies are long gone. Hey Atl Dawg, so the talent has always been there? If so, then are you one of those influential power brokers that keep making lousy coaching hires over there. What does that say about all the know it alls?

twodawgs

October 14th, 2009
9:19 am

A few posters hit the nail on the head: changing demographics, school size, etc. However it amazes me how many “Valdosta experts” have it all figured out and have NEVER seen the Cats play, NEVER lived in the commumnity, NEVER kept up with the program, NEVER met or talked to any of the supporters or critics, NEVER been to a practice to see what is going on, and many NEVER even been through Valdosta. Valdosta plays in the toughest region in the state and it takes quality players AND good coaching to win consistently. Only the very best coaches can survive in this region. Coaches who haven’t been successful at Valdosta have indeed been successful at other schools in less demanding regions. That’s exactly where those coaches should be. Applicants for the Valdosta job all know it is a demanding job and all claim that they are the man to get the job done. When they don’t succeed, obviously they aren’t the man.

Lowndes Rules

October 14th, 2009
9:20 am

Tombo coached in Valdosta once before…..Anyone remember that? He didn’t go over well at Lowndes; why should anyone have expected any better at Valdosta High?

Now that the Right Reverend Rose is screaming racisim (again) maybe he will get his wish…..an all-black administration and coaching staff to manage a school system that is, according to him, 80% black.

Doesn’t really matter, anyway, because VHS is thug and drug central. Does anyone doubt the phenomenon of “white flight” now? Or maybe the decent parents just don’t want their kids going to school at thug & drug central.

Mark Richt

October 14th, 2009
9:23 am

Who can I contact about submitting an application?

Billy H8r

October 14th, 2009
9:25 am

I know some of you vhs people ain’t big on readin’ and ‘rithmetic, so I done did some cipherin’

Darlington had a 7-3 playoff record and vhs never finished lower than 2nd. How is that a “joke?”
How did that jack@$$ Tomberlin “leave the program in better shape than when he found it?”

Loserville

Billy H8r

October 14th, 2009
9:25 am

that’s lower than 2nd in the region

misterwax

October 14th, 2009
9:26 am

Maybe they can entice all the MEXICANS to paly futbol instead….

Hound Dawg

October 14th, 2009
9:26 am

Valdosta should do what Lowndes did, but never will: Hire Madison County’s coach, Frankie Carroll.
He, like Mcpherson his predecessor, has consistently taken a small program numbers wise and won against larger programs. Pride will keep them from doing it.

JAMIE

October 14th, 2009
9:27 am

Valdosta is and always will be a storied program. However,what the people of Valdosta need to realize is that this is NOT the same region Valdosta dominated all those years. The competition is twice as tough as it was from 1960-1990 and Valdosta High is a big reason that it is. Their success has made the region what it is today. Everybody has improved there facilties and coaching over the years to compete w/ Valdosta.

JB

October 14th, 2009
9:27 am

I wish this supt. was president of the Univ. of Ga. Disturbing headline in the Augusta Chronicle this morning. Richt giving Willie a vote of confidence. OUCH. I hope it’s window dressing only for the team. It will get ugly in Athens if that guy is retained. Richt will officially put on notice.

Wendell Franklin Wentz

October 14th, 2009
9:29 am

The good coach should leave Valdosta the way he found them. Lose the rest of the season is what that school board deserves. I realize some folks’ thinking appratus becomes paralyzed sometimes, but this is happening to a school board. Lord, save the schools from folks like that. They are ungrateful souls who do not appreciate a good thing or a good coach. Jesus, save the school from a Superintendent who delivers that kind of message. Amen. -Wendell Franklin Wentz

EagleNationRising

October 14th, 2009
9:30 am

Kay: Warner Robins HS, Houston County HS, Valdosta HS, Lowndes County HS, Coffee County HS are all larger than Northside HS (Warner Robins). Valdosta is in NO way at such a disadvantage that the Valdosta Wildcats can justify having a 19-20 record over the past four seasons.

Everyone makes excuses for their lack of success. Valdosta does NOT have an enrollment disadvantage. The suggestion that poor Valdosta just does not have a chance is absurd. Valdosta compensates their head football coach as well as any program in the nation. Valdosta has a HUGE booster club. People are focusing upon Lowndes County. Rick Tomberlin has not even reached the state playoffs in 2 out of 3 seasons.

I am lost upon why people are surprised that Valdosta fired him. In my view, not making a move would show a lack of direction from the institution. You can not field a football team that just doesn’t compete. Rick Tomberlin is the head coach and he is responsible. Either Valdosta was unprepared on Friday night or the team just quit. Each requires the school to make a move. Tomberlin will land somewhere else and I am certain that he will do well.

Valdosta is NOT at a competitive disadvantage. Let’s stop spreading this false propoganda.

plowboy

October 14th, 2009
9:31 am

everyone quit talking about the talent level , valdosta has the talent , it is the coaching , at the game friday night they barely threw to jay rome who is 6`6 and 240 or sapp who is 6`4 and rome was being covered by a small DB

Chuck

October 14th, 2009
9:32 am

Im sure there is a team in Middle Georgia that will welcome Rick back. After all, we all know that Middle Georgia Football is where its at right now!

Billy H8r

October 14th, 2009
9:34 am

Only the very best coaches can survive in this region. Coaches who haven’t been successful at Valdosta have indeed been successful at other schools in less demanding regions

twopuppy

You are a borderline ‘tard. Less demanding? I see Florida teams beating the best from California, Ohio and South Carolina. Florida ball has it all over Georgia ball; everyone knows this.

Maybe the fan base is less demanding b/c the people understand the difference between life and depending on 16 and 17 year old kids for your happiness.

You continue to pontificate about “the best man” but you don’t even know who the best man is. You hire, whine and fire. Hire, whine and fire. Apparently, the best man is at Lowndes…or is it the best talent?

This isn’t the 70’s and your reign is over. Move on. Get good at chess or checkers. And while Rolson and Darlington are succeeding at the highest level, you can yearn for the good ol’ days and act like you know, when the fact is that their success says more about them and less about you.

twodawgs

October 14th, 2009
9:35 am

Correct Plowboy. And that kind of coaching is a gift to the opponent!

cbgb

October 14th, 2009
9:35 am

He needed to go before he got here. You don’t just think you’re doing a good job at Valdosta. You produce results. That’s the bottom line. Sorry, pal.

hatfieldgeoff

October 14th, 2009
9:35 am

Valdosta is a AAAA school (1800 students) playing at the AAAAA level because of the egos of those in power down there. Larger schools are going to have more talent (even if you recruit a few to your school, wink, wink). A guy that won three state championships has got to know how to build a program, but if you ain’t got the talent, you ain’t got the talent.

BRUCE HILTON

October 14th, 2009
9:41 am

HAVING PLAYED FOR COACH BAZEMORE,AND COACH GREENE AS WELL AS BEING AROUND NICK HYDER IT IS EASY TO KNOW WHAT IS MISSING. THE VALDOSTA WAY. THE WILDCATS NEED TO GO BACK TO THEIR ROOTS AND FIND A COACH WHO WILL INSTILL THE VALUES OF THESE MEN ON THE NEW GENERATION WILDCATS. WE NEED TO FIND A WILDCAT BY HEART NOT BY CHOICE. THESE WERE GREAT MEN WHO INSTILLED GREAT VALUES TO THE PLAYERS. I WITNESSED THIS AND PERFORMED WITH THIS. FOR THOSE WHO SAY CHEAT, LIE, OR ANY OTHER DEROGATORY REMARK I SAY SOUR GRAPES. VALDOSTA IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE WINNERSVILLE USA.

Billy H8r

October 14th, 2009
9:42 am

hatfield

Well said. Tradition doesn’t trump talent or Harvard, Yale and the academies would be D1 powers still.

I mean, should they take a line from vhs, “We USED TO BE great…”

What scares vhs more than anything is to have to move down. It’s a surrender. Just like they can’t admit that, now, they are just like everyone else. They will continue to get worked silly unless they change boundaries or they build another high school.

EagleNationRising

October 14th, 2009
9:44 am

There certainly are a bunch of people talking about race on the site this morning. What in the world does race have to do with Valdosta sitting at 1-3 in the region? I am a little lost. Valdosta players do not play hard and quit. This thing has nothing to do with race.

I could buy these “EXCUSES” about Valdosta and Rick Tomberlin’s sub-0.500 record. If Valdosta was going 9-1 or 8-2…heck, even 7-3 and losing to Lowndes County every year, we could all buy the Lowndes County is a larger high school and the demographics do not favor Valdosta. Valdosta is larger than Northside-Warner Robins. The Wildcats need to stop making excuses and build a winner. There should be MUCH more pride when people put on that uniform.

You guys got fooled when Todd Holcomb was playing his harp on behalf of Rick Tomberlin. Do you guys think people down in Valdosta care about Todd Holcomb’s or the AJC’s opinion of Rick Tomberlin? Get real!!! People in Valdosta care about 1-9, followed by 9-3, followed by 6-4, followed by 4-3. It doesn’t matter if the head coach is green, the administrators are blue, and the players pink. Any head coach producing those numbers at Valdosta has got to go. End of story.

PMC

October 14th, 2009
9:47 am

The guy is 19-20. He just didn’t get it done.

twodawgs

October 14th, 2009
9:48 am

Coach T was quoted saying “I was shocked” by the decision. Really? A blind man could have seen this coming from a mile away.

EagleNationRising

October 14th, 2009
9:48 am

Hatfieldgeoff: Where are you guys getting this misinformation that Valdosta High School has 1800 students? It sounds like some people down in Valdosta will use any excuse to justify Valdosta quitting on the football field. Show this board any legitimate publication that says that Valdosta has 1800 students.

Again, Northside has the smallest enrollment in the city of Warner Robins. That does not change the fact that Houston County and Warner Robins regularly get kicked around by Northside.

Valdosta High School’s phone number is the following: (229) 333-8540

Valdosta has more than 1800 students. Give me a break!

Valdosta’s enrollment: http://high-schools.com/schools/17862/valdosta-high-school.html

EagleNationRising

October 14th, 2009
9:52 am

Twodawgs: The Randy McPherson way of coaching is not half bad either. The guy is clearly the new Buck Godfrey. It is borderline IMPOSSIBLE to to lose a state championship with the team that Lowndes County fielded last season. Now, he it appears that he is not going to even win a Region Championship. Of course, we all know that he has the best talent and the biggest school.

Yes, Tomberlin is the gift that keeps on giving. On the other hand, Northside and Grayson fans can confirm that Randy McPherson will give to you, as well.