By Ralph Hipp
I watched "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" again about a week ago.. the first half of the movie still cracks me up, especially the kid who sees the huge football player (Forrest Whittaker in one of his early movie roles) walk into the city mall. The kid says "I thought he only flew in for games!!"
In a way, that's the situation for Highland Park High football coach Sadiq Muhammad. He drives over and back from his regular job. You see, being the football coach for the Scots is not his regular job. While many coaches work fulltime at their school campus, teaching PE, wrestling, track, conditioning, or a wide variety of subjects like math and history; the 23 year old Muhammad was brought on to coach the Scots football team as a Rule 10 coach. I liked listening to Bruce Steinbrock on 580 Radio describe the situation yesterday, explaining that Muhammad is retained as the coach only through a supplemental contract approved by the school district. So he's got that job, in addition to his regular gig at a call center in Lawrence. (He worked at the call center Friday night and Saturday morning after the fight on the field at Hummer Park.) Look around to Topeka High, Topeka West, Seaman, Washburn Rural, and you'll find the football coaches are all employed fulltime as a teachers/coaches.
Wanted to continue the conversation started by Mr. Steinbrock Tuesday afternoon, that having Sadiq Muhammad on campus fulltime at Highland Park is absolutely crucial to the development of these young men. They come from many different backgrounds, and the Scots squad MORE THAN ANYONE needs to have the role model and fulltime mentor that Sadiq Muhammad could be for them. A coach, as Bruce mentioned, who can stay on them if they stray from practice, not listen to any excuses, and be there during school hours to keep these two dozen or so guys molded together as a cohesive team. That could prove to be the big difference in controlling their emotions on the field. And you know what I'm talking about.
Getting rid of Rule 10, which keeps Muhammad on part-time, isn't automatically the answer either. Bruce pointed out that in this tale of two teams (the astronomical champion Highland Park basketball game, which can't find a way to LOSE a game) has kept Coach Ken Darting on as a Rule 10 coach, because he's officially retired from teaching. So for Ken Darting and Highland Park, Rule 10 is a GOOD THING.
So what's the answer?? Leave your comments with us, and mostly let me know that you agree with us.. Highland Park can't have a part-time football coach anymore. Let USD 501 figure out a way to fix the problem, so it won't get worse. Ralph