Bernie Busken still believes he got a raw deal.
He still maintains his innocence, one year after his highly publicized ouster.
But the former Mountain View High School football coach has reached an uneasy peace with the past.
"I really don't want to talk about it at all," Busken said. "I'm just happy to be coaching football. That's all I want to do."
Busken was hired as the passing game coordinator at NCAA Division II West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas on Feb. 10. The hiring came just nine months after Mesa Public Schools chose not to renew his coaching contract, citing violations of district policy regarding inappropriate language and conduct and excessive use of athlete-to-athlete contact.
Busken spent last season as an offensive assistant at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, but most of that staff was fired following a 1-10 season.
That's when he called on West Texas A&M coach Ronnie Jones, who was an assistant with the Arizona Cardinals from 1994-95.
Busken had always wanted to coach college football. Coming off an 0-11 season, West Texas A&M wasn't the ideal situation, but he believes it will be a steppingstone to something greater.
"I'll get back to the top," he said.
If he does, it is unlikely he will do it at a high school in Arizona. Busken, who taught physical education at Mountain View, is currently under investigation by the State Board of Education, which could revoke his certification as a teacher.
Chief investigator Craig Emmanuel said the investigation is not currently active because Busken is not living in the state and has not applied for a teaching position.
If Busken were to apply, Emmanuel said the board could file a complaint with the Professional Practices Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the board. That action would result in a hearing out of which a recommendation would be made for how to proceed with Busken's case. The subcommittee could decide to do nothing or take more aggressive action, including revocation of Busken's teaching license.
Emmanuel said any Arizona high school looking to hire Busken would be aware of the investigation.
"Our purpose is to protect children," said Emmanuel, adding that it would be difficult for a school to ignore that mission.
Emmanuel said he informed Busken of those facts and Busken seems intent on leaving the Valley anyway. Busken said Wednesday that he and his wife, Kristi, are considering selling the couple's Mesa home. Busken also was under investigation at Southern Utah University last season for an incident in which he allegedly struck a player on the head. But Southern Utah athletic director Thomas Douple said the incident did not constitute physical abuse and that Busken was cleared of all wrong-doing.
"From my experience, Bernie is an outstanding teacher and an outstanding coach," Douple said. Busken said the allegation was difficult to stomach on the heels of the Mountain View investigation. But, he added, all the negative attention has had a positive effect on his family life by bringing him closer to Kristi and his two daughters, Brooke and Willy.
"It's definitely good to be with family," he said. "They're the most important thing in my life."