Tyler ISD athletic director Rod Kaspar hopes to have a Robert E. Lee football coach in place by Feb. 2 — and maybe soon a facelift for Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
“December 16 is the cut-off date for applications and that is when we will move forward,” Kaspar said. “I’ve received emails from coaches who are interested, but will not know the official applicants until then.”
Randy Huffstickler accepted the role of interim head coach for Lee in June, following the sudden retirement of Mike Owens who stepped down after 15 seasons as head coach. The Red Raiders went 1-9 this season, their lone victory against cross-town rival and Class 4A Division I semifinalist John Tyler.
Huffstickler has applied for the position and Kaspar is aware of “several more” online applications that have been submitted.
“Realistically, we’d like to have this position filled by realignment on Feb. 2, but we are not going to rush into something,” Kaspar said. “We are going to take our time, and if it’s past that date then (so be it), but I would hope we could get the business taken care of by then.”
Speaking of business, Tyler ISD lost $14,000 because of teams declining to play their playoff games on the dated TMF Rose Stadium turf of Earl Campbell Field.
Kaspar said the dollar amount is actually higher than that when factoring in concessions, fans eating out, shopping and hotel stays.
TMF Rose Stadium replaced its grass field with SafePlay turf in 2001. In its first five years, the venue hosted 55 playoff games (13 in 2001, 12 in 2002, 10 in 2003, eight in 2004 and 12 in 2005), highlighted by Marshall and Highland Park playing the Class 4A Division I state championship in 2004.
This year, TMF Rose Stadium hosted four playoff games.
“It’s 11-year-old turf that has a lifespan of eight years, so you can only imagine what it’s like,” Kaspar said. “I lost two big playoff games and one of the complaints was the turf was worn out and the other was the hashmarks were too slick.
“It’s just a situation that we need to address and hopefully we’ll get that taken care of.”
Kaspar also said a coin flip twice denied TMF Rose Stadium an opportunity to host playoff games.
“I talked to a coach on the phone every week and he reserved my stadium every week and never got to play here because he kept losing the flip,” Kaspar said.
Kaspar said he is currently gathering information by going to different fields and looking at several different types of turf to put together a presentation that can be shown to the school board.
“We are doing a study to see what avenues we need to take and we will get together a presentation for the board,” Kaspar said. “It’s not a (go) until the board gives their approval, but we are going to make a presentation and hopefully they will accept our presentation and we’ll go from there.”