Tim Hale won't be at Don Drumm Stadium Friday night, but he'll still be rooting for Marietta High.
"Good-luck to the Tigers," said the former MHS head football coach in a phone call Tuesday night. "I think a lot about those guys - Andy Schob, Darren Stevens, and Ben Schenkel. I talked to Darren, I think, about a year ago."
Stevens, of course, is the Tigers' defensive coordinator, while Schob and Schenkel are the head coach and associate head coach, respectively.
After 34 years of either playing or coaching football, Hale - who now resides with his family in the Springfield area - will not be on the sideline this season - not by his own choosing. He had been the head coach at Greenon High in Enon until suspended (with pay) by the board of education in June after an investigation alleged "a six-month pattern of verbal and non-verbal behavior by the Knights' football coaches toward two student-athletes."
Apparently, the two student-athletes preferred attending a sports enhancement program instead of training with the rest of the football squad. And, as a result of that decision, they were allegedly "intimidated and harrassed" by Hale and one of his assistants.
According to documents obtained by a local newspaper in the area, "two formal complaints were made against Hale and the assistant on behalf of the two student-athletes."
At an ensuing board meeting, Becky Hale stood by her man, like any good wife would, and reportedly voiced her displeasure, saying, "We have been shown nothing but disrespect and reprehensible behavior."
She reportedly added that the board's decision to suspend her husband - who incidentally is still employed in the school district as an administrator at the middle school - caused her family great distress.
Most of the people at the meeting were there in support of Coach Hale.
"Becky and I have been through a lot, and it has been difficult for our family," Hale said. "But, you know, football is a game, and you have to put it in perspective.
"It's going to be a little different this fall. We have two little girls, 9 and 7, and I'm looking to the time spent with them as a positive."
Hale was the head football coach at Marietta High for six seasons, compiling a 24-36 record. He was instrumental in helping turn the orange and black program around and getting it going in the right direction.
After Hale left Marietta for Cory-Rawson in northwestern Ohio, Brian Spicer guided the Tigers to their first-ever playoff appearance.
At Don Drumm Stadium last week, one Marietta man amusingly said that all Spicer had to do that season "was add water and stir." It was a nice compliment, meant for Hale.
After Cory-Rawson, Hale coached at Greenon, where in five years at the helm he guided the Knights to a 27-23 record, including three Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division crowns.
According to prep scouting reports, Greenon, now coached by John Jewell, is expected to field another good team this fall. Since 2005, the Knights have won at least five games every year.
As to whether Hale ever returns to coaching football, that remains to be seen.
"I'm not sure where I'll be this Friday night," Hale said. "One of my assistants at Greenon is a head coach now at Northwestern High School, and I may go to that game.
"I'm a believer that things happen for a reason. As for the future...well, we'll just have to see."
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or at firstname.lastname@example.org