Coach Wolf, you’re a legend…but please step aside now

So I am several days late with this, but I only found out about this from my dad a few days ago and hadn’t had a chance to put a post up…

Legendary Brick Township High School football coach Warren Wolf, who retired last December after compiling a 361-122-11 record in 51 seasons at the school, told the Brick Board of Education during its April 29 meeting that he wanted to rescind his retirement because of the board’s decision to hire former Allentown High School coach Patrick Dowling as Wolf’s replacement.

The 81-year-old Wolf, before an audience of 70-100 supporters wearing green “SAVE the TRADITION and PRIDE” t-shirts, told the board:

“I’m terribly concerned and disappointed that you would recommend someone other than a Brick Township boy…You’re doing this either because you hate Brick Township football, or you hate Warren Wolf.”

Yes, that’s right…Wolf apparently referred to himself in the third person.

Wolf, who said he talked to Dowling and told him he would not support his hiring (way to stay classy, Coach Wolf), then announced that he would rescind his retirement and return to coaching rather than see the program be turned over to an outsider.

Nice job of stepping aside gracefully, Warren.

Here is more from the Asbury Park Press:

Scott Lloyd, 39, called the football program an institution here.

John Barrett, 39, told the board it destroyed the tradition Wolf had built during his 51 years with their prospective decision.

“This is not what Mr. Wolf built,” Barrett said. “Now, no matter who gets this job, it’s been tarnished — this should have been the best job in the state and it can’t be that.”

Wolf, 81, has a record of 361-122-11 in 51 seasons. Brick won six on the field NJSIAA sectional championships and 25 Shore Conference divisional titles under him.

Brick actually won a share of the Shore Conference Constitution division title in Wolf’s last season, but they finished just 6-4 and tied with Colts Neck and Toms River East. And in Wolf’s final game, Brick beat cross-town rival — and eventual NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV champion — Brick Memorial.

But Brick was mediocre, at best…and they have been that way for many years now. I went to Brick’s home playoff game against Triton on November 15 and Brick was completely outcoached in a 28-7 loss. Also, I’m pretty sure it was the same 75-100 people at the Board of Education meeting who were the only ones in the Brick stands that game.

News flash to longtime Brick fans — and I am one of them: The Wolf Era is Over! Is mediocrity the TRADITION and PRIDE you want to SAVE? (Apparently, those three words must always be spelled with capital letters in Brick…at least, according to the t-shirts.)

When he announced his retirement, I remember talking to my dad and saying, “You know, I hope the powers that be don’t feel pressured to hire ‘a Brick guy’ to replace Wolf. I think after 51 seasons, it might be time for some new blood.”

And, in a very “non-Brick” move, the Board of Education did just that. The finalists for the coaching job were determined by a selection committee consisting of Brick Township principal Dennis Filippone, Brick Township athletic director Rick Handchen, Brick Memorial principal Richard Caldes and Brick Memorial athletic director Bill Bruno.

Filippone and Caldes were FORMER BRICK PLAYERS UNDER WOLF. If they felt it was so important for “a Brick boy” to get the job, then why did the panel recommend Dowling? Apparently, it wasn’t that much of an issue for them.

These four people interviewed nine candidates on Feb. 12-17 and recommended three finalists on April 1.

Now, according to the Asbury Park Press Pigskin Pundits blog, here is how the final decision was made:

Schools Superintendent Walter Hrycenko said that Dowling is the best candidate out of those who applied for the position. Hrycenko cited Dowling’s experience, his success as a coach and his credentials as a special education teacher as the main reasons for his selection.

“Of those who applied, Pat Dowling had the most coaching experience,” said Hrycenko. “He has an impressive resume and he gave the best interview.”

Hrycenko said the hiring process was the same employed when the district hired Walt Currie to become the Brick Memorial coach in 2007.

Currie won a Central Jersey Group IV championship in his second year at Brick Memorial, so maybe Wolf and Brick football fans should give the new coach a chance.

But back to Dowling…from what I have read, his coaching experience doesn’t appear all that impressive. But replacing the only coach BTHS has ever known is a difficult situation and he is definitely used to that. In his only season as Allentown (N.J.) head coach last year, Dowling went just 2-8, but the Redbirds had lost 29 straight games going into that season. In the third game of the 2008 season against Ewing, Dowling guided Allentown to victory, snapping a 31-game losing streak.

Prior to his year at Allentown, Dowling was head coach at Monroe High School for four years, winning 23 games and taking the team to the state playoffs in his final three seasons there. The school won its first-ever playoff game during Dowling’s tenure.

In 1994, Dowling took the reins of a Wood-Ridge High School program mired in a 31-game losing streak and coached the team to victory in his first game as head coach.

Now, another point the Wolf backers are making is that Dowling has had eight coaching jobs in 20 years. Uh, folks, the days of a coach staying put for 51 seasons are over. Actually, I’m pretty sure those days never began. It’s very rare for something like that to happen. But, seriously, if a coach stays at a school for 10 years, that’s pretty amazing in this day and age.

Dowling is 48 years old and has not been a head coach at any of New Jersey’s elite football schools. It is completely understandable that he would be using the Monroe and Allentown high schools of the world in order to eventually take over an elite high school program. Now, Brick used to be an elite program. Perhaps, he can build it up to that point again.

All I know is that Brick’s new football coach shouldn’t be criticized for not being “a Brick boy.” This should be an exciting time for the program…new coach, new blood, new direction. Sure, it may not work out. But there is a chance that it will.

Wolf is the winningest coach in New Jersey high school football history and his 51 seasons at Brick Township High School should be cherished and remembered fondly.

But it’s not like Wolf’s last years were anything spectacular. Back in Brick’s glory days, home playoff games would draw overflow crowds in the thousands. Like I mentioned earlier, only a couple hundred were at the one I attended in November. It’s not like there is a recent wave of success that needs to continue. Let’s face it, the Brick football program needs an overhaul.

It’s time for a change and I am more than willing to support Coach Dowling’s appointment as the next head coach of Brick Township High School’s football team.

And, really, the arrogance and complete lack of class shown by Warren Wolf in this situation makes me want to root for Coach Dowling even more. And it’s a shame I just had to type that last sentence.

Source: Tandem With the Random


5 thoughts on “Coach Wolf, you’re a legend…but please step aside now

  1. I printed this article out, just so I could wipe my ass with it.

    Brick TRADITION and PRIDE are bigger than you could ever understand.

    Longtime Brick fan?


    1. Yep, this is the kind of intelligent rebuttal I would expect from the pro-Wolf contingent. This tells you why CLASS isn’t on those t-shirts…obviously, not a trait familiar to these folks.

      Anyway, I suppose it’s pointless to respond to “Conrad” since it seems drawings, hand puppets and vulgar gestures are his preferred forms of communication…but I’m going to anyway.

      To answer Conrad’s question…YES, I am a longtime Brick fan. I grew up in Brick and graduated from Brick Twp. High School in 1989. But I went to Brick home and away games — including state playoffs — quite often as a child and as I became a bit older. I went to all of the games while in high school. And, even though I graduated in June 1989, I drove down to South Jersey for the Group IV title game later that year against Washington Twp., which Brick won 13-12 on a dramatic defensive stop in the game’s waning moments. I was at Cherokee and Cherry Hill East in the 80s. I was at Giants Stadium in 1979.

      You know where else I was at? A home playoff game against Triton last year at which there were very few fans and green and white football jackets.

      Listen, I love seeing the championship flags at the top of Keller Memorial Field’s home bleachers. I love seeing all the former players wearing their football jackets at big games. Yes, indeed, I loved the pride and tradition (yes, the all caps joke has played itself out) that you want to save and cling to.

      But it’s not reality. It’s only a memory of a bygone era. You don’t see many great 51-year runs, but Brick football had one. It’s now time to move on, though.

      My problem with Wolf in this case is that he had to have known there was a hiring process in place when he announced his retirement last year. How could he expect that the job would be handed on a silver platter to one of his Brick boys? He had no right to expect that.

      Plus, based on some things I have read, all of the Brick boys who might have been ready for the job didn’t even apply because they secretly didn’t want to follow Wolf because of the pressure.

      The hiring process resulted in Patrick Dowling as the best man for the job. Like I said, I don’t know how to evaluate him as a coach. You just can’t look at his record and say it stinks because he has been at places that have been downright awful. However, Dowling’s last three programs — Wood-Ridge, Monroe and Allentown — all improved immediately after his arrival. He snapped a 31-game losing streak in his first game at Wood-Ridge, he led Monroe to the playoffs for the first time ever and to the team’s first-ever playoff victory, and he went 2-8 in his one season at Allentown after the program suffered 31 consecutive losses.

      Why is it so wrong to infuse the program with new blood? And why can’t an outsider be trusted with continuing the pride and tradition built by Coach Wolf? To think that Brick Twp. High School football can only be coached by “a Brick boy” is just closed-minded.

      Wolf did great things for Brick Township and for Brick football, but he is acting like he thought he was entitled to special treatment. I see so many editorials out there saying that the board of education should grant Wolf’s “request” and hire a Brick boy. But it’s not a request…it’s a take-it-or-leave-it demand! If he wished for a Brick boy to be his replacement, he should have made such a request when he stepped down. Maybe it would have been honored…maybe not. However, it sounds like he just expected it to be handed to one of his boys because of who he is.

      Is entitlement another trait he was instilling in his players? And Conrad called me disgraceful?

      Wolf had 51 years in the spotlight. Dowling is finally getting his chance to be in one…and Wolf and his supporters are ruining the moment for him. And I am pretty sure he can build upon the Brick pride and tradition…and maybe add a little class, as well.

  2. well, you missed the point…
    and your comments show you were not at the meeting, or at least not listening…

    1. Scott,

      I was not at the meeting. I don’t live in Brick anymore so I can only go by the news accounts and some blogs and editorials written about it. But I do invite you to share your perspective on the meeting and the situation, in general, here.

      And I also apologize for lumping all the Wolf backers into one category. I mean, I’m a Philadelphia sports fan and I can’t listen to WIP because most callers make us all sound like idiots. I realize there are those like you who played for Coach Wolf and support him out of loyalty, which is admirable. But, c’mon, there are a few people in that group who just want to raise a ruckus, right?

      Here’s the thing…and maybe you can provide an answer to this. Do you know if Wolf asked to be included in the search process? I mean, if he asked and was denied that opportunity then Wolf’s objections would be a bit more justifiable. For all he has done, I think Wolf deserved that privilege, if he requested it.

      But if Wolf didn’t ask to be included in the process, I don’t know why he is so upset. If he had asked to be on the search committee or to serve as a consultant to the process and was denied, I would be more empathic to his protests.

      This whole situation could have been avoided if Wolf had publicly stated his desire to be on the search committee at the start of the process. I would have had no problem with Wolf and his supporters rallying to get him included in the search process. But by doing this after the fact, it has created a no-win situation for everybody involved. The fans are divided and now any coach not named Patrick Dowling will be there for the wrong reasons. If Wolf returns, he will be there because he felt he needed to come back in order to preserve his legacy. If a Brick guy gets it, he will be there because the BOE felt pressured enough to hire him. If Dowling does indeed becomes coach, he will be there because he earned that right through the search process. But he will be scrutinized mercilessly by his own fan base…simply because he is not from Brick, which doesn’t make any sense to me.

      Joe Torre had nothing to do with the Yankees when he was hired as their manager before the 1996 season. His managerial record with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals was a lackluster 894-1003 and he finished in first place just once, with the Braves in 1982. And that Atlanta team was swept in three games by St. Louis in the ’82 NL Division Series. Plus, Torre had been a National League guy throughout his playing and managerial career. The fans calling into WFAN were irate when Torre was named Yankees manager…and he wound up winning four World Series and six American League pennants in 12 seasons at the helm of the Bombers. Even though he wasn’t part of the previous 22 World Series titles, Torre brought Yankee pride and tradition back to the Bronx.

      So I’m not sure what point I missed. In short, here are my two main points: a) the new football coach at Brick Twp. High School does not need to be a Brick guy in order to succeed and continue the pride and tradition of the program, and b) Wolf — unless I am told otherwise — has no basis for protesting the results of the search process.

      1. it was a railroad job. the committee that was put together to evaluate the coaches had him in the last slot, yet he gets hired, that was part of it…the jist of what was going on.

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