Why did this take so long? | VailDaily.com

Why did this take so long?

Chris FreudVail CO, Colorado
Chris Freud

My first thought about Jason Sedlak being named to replace Pat Engle as the head football coach was that I didn’t laugh when the new guy said, “We expect to win at Battle Mountain.”I’ve laughed before. It always sounded like a joke in the past when coaches have said that about Huskies football.Things are legitimately different when it comes to football in Eagle-Vail. After a 4-6 season last fall, this team is not a pushover and there are expectations for Battle Mountain beyond, “Gosh, I hope they win more than two games.”My second reaction was, “Why in the heck did it take this long?”Make no mistake, Sedlak is the right guy for Huskies football. He knows the players. He knows the environment. He’s been a key part of getting the Huskies to where they are right now.

Sedlak was also the right guy in early December. The day after Engle resigned on Nov. 15, Battle Mountain athletic director Rich Houghton said he wanted the position filled in two weeks.When I asked Houghton why this process took three months, he said, “We never anticipated having 21 candidates, so we had to go through resumes and references. I would have liked it to go a lot faster. What you want to do is what’s right for the kids. I feel like we made the right choice.”To his credit, Sedlak was gracious and said all the right things about the process extending from two weeks to three months. But what were you thinking, Rich?Did you think that John Ramunno was going to come up Interstate 70, and pitch his tent in Eagle-Vail? (“Ain’t it great to be a Husky” doesn’t sound right.) Houghton joked in November, “Who knows if Mike Ditka comes out?” For the record, I wouldn’t take Ditka without Buddy Ryan. But I get Houghton’s point. Nothing personal coach Sedlak, I’d take Bill Walsh over you if he were available.

Yet it had to have been clear relatively soon that none of these fantasy scenarios were going to come true. The bottom line is that it looks like it took Battle Mountain three months to find its own defensive coordinator. Yes, that is a perception, and perception is not always reality. But perceptions are very important when it comes to Huskies football. When I interviewed Sedlak for this story, we laughed about how the Battle Mountain student body actually stayed for the second half of the Homecoming game against Rifle last fall. We laughed about it, but unfortunately in years past, the students were long gone after the court was named. The student body started hopping on the football bandwagon last year after a long and conspicuous absence. We are starting to see the erosion of “Who gives a you know what” attitude toward Battle Mountain football.When you started seeing actual crowds at Huskies games last year, you could see what a good football team can do for a school and a community. It’s taken a lot of work just to get to this point.

As I reported when he resigned, Engle had made up his mind about his coaching future six months before the season. With this in mind, don’t you think he was planning a smooth transition by emphatically endorsing Sedlak in November?What was needed in this situation was swift action by Battle Mountain’s administration. By waiting this long to find a natural successor, the administration was saying what the student body had been saying for years – football doesn’t matter at Battle Mountain.And that sadly is no joke. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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