By Chris Yow
Columbia Central principal Kevin Eady was aware of several teaching and coaching vacancies that would require his attention when he officially began his duties on July 1, in preparation for the 2021-22 school year.
The head football coaching position was not on that list, but that changed on Monday morning following a meeting with now-former coach Jason Hoath.
Citing “events” that have taken place within the program, Eady said he felt it was time to go in a new direction with the football program’s leadership.
“I evaluated on some things that were going on and looked into some things and tried to get a good handle,” Eady said. “I decided, in the best interest of Columbia Central High School, our students and our student-athletes and program, to make this move now.
“No time is ever good, but I felt if we did something now, we could move forward to the future.”
Eady named John Moore the interim replacement for the 2021 season. Moore, who coached at Columbia Central under Vance Belew and served as offensive coordinator during the Lions’ three state championship game appearances in 2009, ’10 and ’12, last coached at Columbia Central in 2019 as a part of Hoath’s staff.
The year apart from the current staff was one of the reasons Eady felt comfortable appointing Moore with the job.
“I wanted to go outside; I didn’t want the interim to come from within the staff,” Eady said. “This time of the year you can’t post it and wait. (We’ll make it) an interim position through this year and evaluate as we go.”
Hoath compiled a 23-31 record at Columbia Central with three playoff appearances, including a triple-overtime opening-round win at Gallatin last season. He said he has already fielded several calls about open assistant coaching positions, but will miss standing on the sideline for the Lions.
“I hate it for the kids. I poured my heart and soul into Columbia Central football,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time there as both an assistant and as head football coach.
“God opens some doors and He closes some. I’ve fielded several calls today from different schools. I’ll have to pray about it and do what’s best for me and my family.”
Eady stressed the decision was not necessarily based on the success of the program on the field, but what he felt was a difference in philosophy.
“You know, everybody thinks of wins and losses as why because they say it in college and in the pros; there are other aspects of building a program. Sometimes you just have to go in another direction,” he said.
Moore takes over the Columbia Central program just 39 days before their Aug. 20 season opener against visiting Marshall County, and the newly anointed coach knows he has his work cut out.
“We are going to be behind everybody. Let’s face it: we’re starting over,” he said. “We’re going to be behind, but we will catch up and we’re going to be OK. I am looking out the front windshield; I’m trying to get to these kids and make this program better.”
Doing so means he will need to install his systems quickly, but Moore doesn’t feel as if that will be unprecedented.
“I started coaching in 1990, and back then we started much later than we do now. I have that in the memory bank,” he said. “Yes, we’re behind and we are going to change some terminology, but football is football.
“I feel confident we’re going to be fine.”
Because of his time on staff under Hoath, Moore said he has a familiarity with the upperclassmen on the team, and he believes that will make the transition a little easier for both he and the players.
Moore expressed his gratitude to Hoath as well for the five seasons he spent at the Lions’ helm.
“I want to thank Jason Hoath for the contribution he made as an assistant and head coach for the Columbia Central football program,” he said. “I only wish him the best.”
According to Eady, Moore will continue to work with several members of the current staff, including Josh Taylor, Wes Duncan and Deondre Davis. Eady said he had not yet spoken with offensive coordinator Scott Tilghman.
At least one more coaching position — that vacated by David Davis, who joined the new staff at Franklin under former Summit defensive coordinator Alex Melton — will be filled “as soon as possible” as it is also a teaching position.
Until this past weekend, Moore planned to return to coaching with his brother, Tom, who is the head coach at Hillwood. Moore initially asked Eady if he could negotiate an earlier arrival time at the high school in order to leave earlier and make football practice in Nashville. The chance to take this position in the school where he currently works was an easy decision.
“I spent 13 years at Hillwood in Metro Nashville, and there you have more hurdles than other places,” he said. “I came to Central to work with Vance (Belew) and I wanted to work in one town, one school. It’s provided me to reach my dreams.
“We went to the finals three out of four years, and this place has afforded me all my dreams. For that reason alone, I owe Columbia Central my gratitude.
“They’re in a spot of bother right now, and I’m here to help.”