Hopefully, Steve Arnold, the new Warren G. Harding High School football coach, has a backup plan in place.
There are many ways to describe coaching the Raiders, but job security isn't among them. Since Phil Annarella left after the 1996 season with a 51-23 record in seven seasons, the program has been led by Gary Barber (1997-99), Thom McDaniels (2000-06), D.J. Dota (2007-10) and Rick Rios (2011).
Some were told their services were no longer required. McDaniels left on his own because of issues that weren't directly related to coaching.
Enter Arnold, who has enjoyed plenty of success since taking over as Harding's basketball coach in 2002. He's come as close as possible to making Warren a basketball town. Now his goal will be to put football back on the map, not just here, but statewide.
For that, he'll need plenty of luck and, for his sake, the patience of administrators and board of education members. Will any of those trigger-happy folks sit still if the Raiders go 3-7 next season and lose for a third straight season to Howland? Rios will certainly be interested to know.
On the surface the decision to hire Arnold can be described as different. For starters, why would Arnold leave a successful basketball program for a football program that can't hang with the big boys in Region 1, the manliest of Division I regions?
While the Raiders have looked more like a Division II team in recent years, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Lakewood St. Edward, Mentor, Solon and Cleveland Glenville (until this season) continue to flex large Division I muscles. Harding has never been without fine athletes. The problem now is that there aren't enough of them, and without superstars like Maurice Clarett and Mario Manningham, it's difficult to compete evenly with the best.
It's also fair to wonder why the selection committee didn't put an emphasis on finding someone who has coached football recently and has a proven track record of success. Arnold last coached in the 1990s, when he was an assistant for Annarella and Barber. He'll obviously put together a staff of coaches who know the game well and will make his transition from basketball easier, but when he yells "press" will he be thinking of a coverage technique by cornerbacks or an aggressive defense in hoops?
This isn't an easy gig. No one knows that better than McDaniels, who brought the structure and discipline that was needed in 2000.
"Jobs like Canton McKinley and Warren Harding are tough," McDaniels said. "They're demanding jobs. There are high expectations. Those environments are challenging to work in and to succeed in, and I don't mean that to be derogatory. I'm stating facts.
"On the other hand, if you're allowed to run the program and manage it the way you want to with structure and discipline and there are clear boundaries of what is OK and what's not OK and kids make the commitment, then those are great places and are easy to win at because the kids at Harding are great. They can run, and they're fearless. Those situations I thought were best-suited for me, but they're challenging."
This is also a risky move for Harding athletic director Paul Trina. He's seen several coaches come and go during his tenure. Nearing retirement, Trina wants to make this his last football hire, and, hopefully, his best hire.
When Chris Palmer took the challenge of being the first coach of the expansion Browns in 1999, he said he felt like a caretaker of a cherished part of the community. As we've seen since then, that prized treasure has been shattered so many times that no one has been able to put the pieces back together.
Trina and Arnold are dealing with a cherished part of this community. According to records, Harding football has been around since 1892, when Gillet Wynkoop coached the team to a tie in the one and only game played that season.
Poor, old Gillet wasn't the coach in 1893. It's not known if the board of education had anything to do with his departure or not.