It's the middle of March and Warren G. Harding High School still doesn't have a football coach.
This was not the plan when the Warren City Schools Board of Education voted 4-1 against renewing the contract of Raiders coach D.J. Dota last month.
Sources said the original field of candidates numbered about two dozen and was pared to eight.
They were Devlin Culliver, Tom Bruney, Luke Ethington, Todd Filtz, Dan Reardon, Rick Rios, Jeff Bayuk and Anthony Thornton.
Culliver coached at Painesville Harvey, Warrensville Heights and East Cleveland Shaw. Bruney coaches at West Virginia's Brooke High School. Ethington coaches at Maurice J. McDonough High School in Maryland.
Filtz, a Steubenville native, has spent the last three seasons at Maple Heights. Reardon, a former Harding assistant, led Ursuline to three straight Division V state titles. Rios coaches at Toledo Rogers. Bayuk has been at Canfield, Hubbard and Campbell Memorial, and is an assistant at Howland. Thornton coaches at Columbus Brookhaven.
After a round interviews, the final four were Reardon, Filtz, Bayuk and Rios.
After another series of interviews, the job reportedly was offered to Reardon. He turned it down - twice, according to some sources.
Then Filtz was offered the job early last week and he, too, was said to have declined.
The job then appeared to be Bayuk's if a deal could be reached.
That would have been ironic, since Bayuk played a major role in preparing Howland for its 25-22 victory over Harding on Oct. 10. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise - that loss cost Dota his job.
But on Thursday, Bayuk - like Reardon and Filtz - withdrew from consideration.
So now what?
It appears the Harding job no longer carries the prestige it once did. Or perhaps Reardon, Filtz and Bayuk - and who knows who else - turned the job down simply because of financial concerns.
The Warren City Schools do not appear to be in a position to offer the Raiders' next coach the sweetheart deal Thom McDaniels got in 1999. Not with the district having to pay more than $100,000 to former Superintendent Kathryn Hellweg and then having to bring in her replacement.
If the district knows its next move, no one is talking about it. Harding athletic director Paul Trina and school board president Kevin Stringer both declined comment after Bayuk's withdrawal from consideration.
What is Rios' status? Will the district go back to the three men who have reportedly turned down offers with new terms? Do any of the original eight who didn't make the cut to four now warrant new consideration?
Or does the district start from the beginning and open a new search with new candidates?
This is officially a mess.
Who would have thought we'd be halfway through March and the Raiders - coming off an 8-3 season and a Division I playoff appearance - would still be without a coach?
Dota, the coach the school board decided wasn't able to take Harding to the next level, was quickly hired at West Branch. Three potential replacements have looked at his old job and decided it wasn't for them.
What gives? Is it about money? Is about job security and the expectations that come with coaching at Harding?
Whatever it is, the board needs to find the answer, and then a coach. This has gone on too long.