By Tuesday night, both Gilbert and Mesquite high schools were expected to have finalized their respective football coaches in Tim Rutt (Gilbert) and Jim Jones (Mesquite).
Rutt has plenty of experience as a longtime assistant in the Chandler district (Hamilton and Basha) and Corona del Sol several years ago. Jones, of course, opened and ran Red Mountain for more than 20 years before essentially being shown the door, where he became an assistant at San Tan Foothills.
In the case of Rutt, it’s his first shot at being in charge of a program. That didn’t end well last year when Gilbert hired Leland Rodgers, but such a route seemed more plausible given the school’s and district’s struggles on the field and financially as it relates to budgets and spending.
In the case of Jones, however, it’s interesting that he wants to get back into being the head honcho of a program. Granted, Mesquite is moving down to Division II in football for the next two-year block, and his past with Mesquite athletic director Jason Grantham (a former Red Mountain baseball coach) was appealing.
But he’s often mentioned enjoying being an assistant the past few years, not only away from the pressure-cooker that Division I football became in his final couple years at Red Mountain, but at a school which should, and does have high expectations.
Mesquite is in a tough spot in both finances and geographic boundaries, and Jones will be a full-time teacher at the school. He enjoyed working with kids and focusing on those few hours of coaching moreso than all the off-the-field labors required to be a head coaches these days.
Now he’s jumping back into the fray and it’s a lot to take on for someone who’s been doing this for 40 years.
Maybe the connection with administration was too great. Maybe he always wanted to get back into being in the “big chair.” Maybe being an assistant wasn’t enough to keep him occupied enough for his liking (or, he would joke, his wife’s liking).
Maybe the extracurricular issues he grew frustrated with in his final couple years at Red Mountain won’t be issues at smaller-Mesquite.
It’ll be interesting to see moving forward what and how many assistants are hired and how this process works out for Jones, a longtime coach with zero interest in “rah-rah” speeches, self-promotion or the spotlight.
None of that bothers Mesquite, a team with a lot of returning experience on the roster next season, but a program which needs ample reconstruction to be a perennial playoff player in Div. II.