This was a tumultuous offseason for Stamford High School football coach Jamar Greene. While reapplying for his job after three years, 14 other applicants were interviewed. After it was announced that Greene would not be returning, he appealed the decision.
The process cast a bad eye on the school and caused other FCIAC coaches to rally around Greene, with several offering him jobs on their staffs.
The administration and Greene reached a settlement in the spring for him to return before a grievance was filed. Greene praised the efforts of Stamford principal Ray Manka and assistant principal Matt Forker in helping to resolve the situation.
The Ruden Report caught up with Greene this week to discuss how he dealt with the uncertainty and his hopes for this season.
The Ruden Report: How hard was it when you were in limbo, not sure if you would be returning or not?
Jamar Greene: It was extremely tough. My first thought was how much it was hurting the program and the team and the players. I didn’t so much worry about myself but I knew the process was going to set the team back. I just thought if you wanted to get rid of me and I wasn’t the guy then let me know that in December or January instead of putting me through a whole interview process.
TRR: What kind of message did you think was being sent when the school didn’t tell you immediately you would be rehired?
JG: For one it was either you don’t know what you want. Obviously they were 50-50 on me. Saying you’re not fired but you have to go back through the process, that kind of let me know that if somebody else they thought was better came along, they were probably going to go in another direction.
TRR: Was there ever a point where you wanted to say either make the commitment to me or I am pulling out?
JG: I wanted to, but the only reason I didn’t was because of the players. I thought about the seniors and some of the players that didn’t want me to go so I stuck it out for them. But yeah, especially being a Stamford public school teacher, I thought I should have been treated a little better.
TRR: Do you think the city needs to change the process with coaches so they don’t have to keep reapplying for their jobs? It seems to me to be antiquated and make little sense.
JG: It didn’t really reach the Board of Ed but the superintendent was good about communicating how he felt and I think changes are going to be made going forward.
TRR: When you were going through the appeal was there a point you were just fed up and considered withdrawing?
JG: No because I was in it to win it. If I was in that far I might as well go ahead and take the job back. The head coaching job doesn’t come around so often and from a standpoint of what I mean to the community, being the first African-American head (football) coach in the city of Stamford at a public school, and being the only African-American head coach in the FCIAC period, I felt I owed it to my community to fight and keep the job.
“I thought about the seniors and some of the players that didn’t want me to go so I stuck it out for them. But yeah, especially being a Stamford public school teacher, I thought I should have been treated a little better.”
TRR: I know you had a lot of offers from people like Westhill’s Frank Marcucio, New Canaan’s Lou Marinelli and Greenwich’s John Marinelli to be an assistant on their staffs. Were they tempting?
JG: Absolutely. I want to thank Lou Marinelli, John Marinelli and Frank Marcucio. Lou Marinelli was the first one to give me a call and give me a job offer, followed by Frank Marcucio and John Marinelli. So I had New Canaan, Greenwich and Westhill, where I could have stayed home. I had some offers. Even Norwalk High School called me, and Harding and Fairfield Ludlowe to let me know that I’m appreciated. I appreciate those within our conference and Harding, extending an offer to go over there. Ultimately I wanted to stay at Stamford High.
TRR: How much has all of this set back the team? There was no coach for about six months.
JG: I lost some assistants but I replaced them with some really good coaches. I think the biggest thing is we lost six months of preparation. The weight room, 7 on 7 and things of that nature that we could have done to prepare for the upcoming season. So we’re just behind every team that we are going to face by six months. There is no way you can replace that, but we just put it behind us and we work hard on getting ready for week one.
TRR: Do you feel any pressure because of what happened to win immediately?
JG: Absolutely. If I don’t win it’s one of those, see, we should have replaced him. I’m up against it. We lost time so you have a little bit of time to get ready for the season. But I don’t care what other people think. I know if I give 110 percent and my coaches give 110 percent we’ll be fine.