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Coach John Hines explains his reasons for leaving PC for South Laurel

Feb. 14—During his 25 years as the Pulaski County High School head football coach, John Hines achieved some great success — which included the 2014 Class 5A state championship, four straight Class 5A title game appearances, and six regional titles. In December during the Maroons' annual Football Award Banquet, Hines proudly reminded the audience of those past Pulaski County football accomplishments.

He also admonished some of the program's parents — without calling out names — for their negativity and stated that if they weren't happy with the way he ran his program they should go somewhere else. Hines stated that he had asked someone to film that portion of his banquet speech so there would be no confusion about what was said.

Little did the veteran coach know that the video clip would go viral on social media and cause many negative reactions towards him.

"That stupid video never should have gotten out on social media," Hines stated. "I didn't say anything that was wrong. I didn't cuss anybody. I didn't call anybody out. I just said some things that made some parents mad. I probably should have handled that differently, but that [video] was never supposed to get out there.

"Some parents are never happy with the way the coach operates the program, so that was not really any different in any other year," he stated. "The only difference may have been the social media barrage. As a coach, you're always going to have upset parents, but as long as you're doing what's right for the kids and for the program, that's your basis for [your decision making]."

Hines claimed that a large portion of his players stood up and gave him a standing ovation after his banquet speech, but the social media video clip did not show that part.

The aftermath of that video spawned a few meetings between Hines and different members of the school system's administration staff. According to Hines, he was never asked to leave as the football coach. However after 25 years leading the school's football program, he was puzzled why the school's administration questioning how he ran his program.

"I was never asked to leave, I left on my own," Hines stated. "The main things that were troublesome to me were that there were some things that went on behind the scenes with administration that I just felt like they weren't supportive as they needed to be. I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, you know, but there were just some things that I felt like they were listening to some parents. I make parents mad all the time; all coaches do.

"I just felt like there were some folks that went to the administration attacking me and the administration then wanted me to defend myself," the former state champion coach stated. "That was the biggest red flag. Every time a group of mad parents go to the administration to fuss about something going on with the coach, and the coach has to defend himself, that's just not an atmosphere that many coaches want to live in."

Hines was not bitter towards anyone, and stated his decision to leave was more of a business decision than an emotional decision.

"This opportunity at South Laurel just kind of came out of the blue," Hines stated. "The more I looked into it, the more wonderful opportunity I thought it was, and I just couldn't pass it up. I'm very excited about the opportunity at coaching at South Laurel.

"I'm very excited about our future," Hines added. "They've got a lot of things going at South Laurel High School that, quite frankly, a lot of other schools don't have yet. I'm talking about the alignment from the administration, athletic director, coaches of all sports, and all the things they're doing for athletics, the facilities, and the things that are going on around the school. It's an incredible thing to see."

Despite his happiness for his future at South Laurel, Hines was sad to leave behind the people at Pulaski County and all the fond memories he had during his 29 years in the Pulaski County school system.

"I always had great support from administration all the years I was there, especially now with guys like Kevin Cook and Brian Miller — I love them to death, and they've always been very supportive," Hines vaunted. "When I was at Pulaski County coaching football, I was a 100% Pulaski County. I loved Pulaski County, loved everything about it, and gave it my all.

"I'm honored to have coached at Pulaski County High School as long as I did," Hines added. "I'm honored for the people that brought me there and all the support I've had over the years. I've had several different principals, athletic directors and school board members. So many things have always been very, very positive. No way I can name them all. I am thankful for all of them and I am thankful for all the superintendents I worked under and, of course, all the many coaches that coached for us and the players that played for us.

"There's never good circumstances to leave a program," he said. "It hurts me to leave those players behind. I love them and I wish them the best. I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways and it's something that, to be quite honest, was probably long overdue."

Hines will probably inject his familiar, and highly successful, spread offense and aggressive style of play into the South Laurel Cardinals' football playbook. And despite the recent social media backlash, Hines said he had no plans on changing the way he deals with negativity that sometimes infiltrates his program.

"I always told the players, parents, coaches, and everybody that was involved; if you're not all in, then go where you need to go," Hines said. "And that was always the message. That was the same message in that stupid little video...and I probably could have handled that a little different, but the message has always been the same. I will probably deliver the same message here at South Laurel, if you're not 'gung ho' about South Laurel football, then go where you need to go."