Hurst right choice for top head coach

Here at The Citizen, we take our postseason all-star teams and awards seriously.

They are truly a labor of love for us. It takes time to collect all the information from coaches and assimilate it into the teams.

Today, we are unveiling our final all-area team for the fall sports - football - which is the most difficult of all the teams to put together due in part to its sheer size.

We also take our choices for Coach of the Year very seriously.

For those of you that don't know how our process works, we ask all six coaches from our area high schools to cast a vote, as well as all three members of our sports staff.

Of course, that gives the coaches a 2-to-1 advantage in the voting, but I've always felt that coaches are the most qualified to vote for their peers. They understand the hard work and long hours that go into a season, especially a football season.

I keep the tally secret until after our staff has voted. In fact, I cast my votes first before even looking at the coaches' votes or taking our staff's votes. I don't want to be influenced by the results.

Eastside's Rick Hurst is our Football Coach of the Year for 2008. He was nearly a unanimous choice, as he should have been after guiding the Eagles to their best season in school history with an 11-2 record, which included the Region 8-AAA title and a trip the Class AAA quarterfinals.

In light of Hurst's arrest in November in connection with a mortgage fraud investigation, some of you will no doubt disagree with this choice.

Others will feel our decision to stick with Hurst as Coach of the Year is the right call since he has not had his day in court yet.

I can see the merits of both arguments. It was a difficult decision, one that we openly discussed among the editors here at the Citizen.

However, I feel Hurst deserves our award for several reasons.

First and foremost, he did the best coaching job in the area this fall. Look at it this way, double-digit win football seasons around here are about as common as snowstorms. We've had three double-digit win seasons in my 10 going on 11 years here at the Citizen. As for snowstorms, I'm pretty sure we've had less.

Second, I believe in our legal system. Hurst will have his day in court. I'm not comfortable using the award as a way to pass judgment on him.

Finally, as a former athlete, I understand the hard work that goes into a football season. In fact, in these times, a football season is almost a round the clock, full year event.

Once your season ends in the fall, it's not long before you start planning and preparing for next season. Football coaches and their staffs put in countless hours.

In fact, I feel that the Coach of the Year Award doesn't just go to the head coach, it also is an award for his staff.

A football coach doesn't do it alone, he is dependent on every member of his staff. Every football coach worth a salt will agree with that statement.

So now that we've spelled out our reasoning, literally, you can feel free to agree or disagree with our choice.

In our minds, Hurst is the right choice.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.