Fitting for a guy with a background in coaching running backs, enthusiasm figuratively sprinted its way out of Gerald Todd’s mouth.
Amid external pressures and expectations of Basha’s new football coach and longtime assistant — a hire made by the school Wednesday to replace Bernie Busken given some of the other names we heard in this process — time will tell how long the proverbial “pep” in Todd’s step sustains itself. But the man has a plan.
His father was a coach, and he noted his time spent in Texas and New Mexico before coming to Basha as an assistant in 2006 helped groom his interest and understanding of the differences between being “on staff” and “the guy.” Having taken bits and pieces from Busken and Tim McBurney before then, Todd’s goals for Basha are a return to championship contention status at a faster pace of play, done by kids with character who are in the classroom.
“We put out, as a (Chandler district), some of the best talent in the state,” Todd said. “Players go where they want and as a district we try to make sure the kids are getting the best experience. I like those in my backyard like the other three (Chandler, Hamilton and Perry) as well. We’ll compete with what we’ve got.”
His background, however, offers no guarantee it’ll be done by running the ball. The Bears have some promising pieces in place at receiver along with Ryan Kelley and Jace Plant at quarterback.
But that’s putting the cart ahead of the horse. It’ll take a couple weeks for a staff to be formulated and finalized — likely an even mix of current Basha assistants and those from the outside.
Spring practice can begin the week of April 28, but Todd may not have a staff in place by then, so the Bears could miss out a few days early and instead go to the end of the allowed four-week period instead.
As it related to wholesale changes he might be interested in making, Todd wouldn’t touch any discussion of the alleged acrimony which dissolved by the end between Busken and many families which eventually led to kids transferring to nearby schools during the winter and spring.
Nor should he at this stage, it wouldn’t provide him or the program any benefit.
But the success at Hamilton and Chandler coupled with a thriving district and continued growth around Chandler’s geographical peripherals have Todd walking into a place with high expectations, internally and externally. The microscope is already turned on as to how the program changes and moves forward after the difficult end to the season and offseason.
“I think what you do is accept responsibility of the job and what it entails,” Todd said. “This is the best school district athletically in the state and I’m excited to be part of it. We’ve done a phenomenal job and the other schools have. Be competitive. There’s one state champion and I want to make sure we’re at that level and have a chance to be there.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.