BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Joey Porter, one of Bakersfield’s biggest football names, could soon become the high school football coach at his alma mater.
Foothill athletic director Scott Manzer confirmed Wednesday that Mike Gregg, the Trojans coach for the past four seasons, will leave at the end of the school year to take a teaching position at Centennial, where he’ll serve on new coach Kevin Sneed’s staff.
Manzer also said that Porter has “expressed interest” in the opening at Foothill, which happens to be the alma mater of the four-time All-Pro linebacker and member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.
Many schools have famous alumni, of course, but Porter seems more likely than most to take a job in his hometown. He has always kept a home in Bakersfield; he runs a youth football camp every summer with the help of various famous teammates; and since his NFL retirement last fall, he’s been a fixture at high school athletic events around the county.
Could this happen? I'll speculate. Porter has no formal high school coaching experience, but his knowledge of the game goes without saying and his presence alone would create excitement around a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2007. It's safe to say a Foothill game would be a hot ticket no matter who the Trojans were playing, at least for the first season or two. After that, excitement will continue only as long as success comes along with it. Can you imagine fiery Joey Porter coaching in a big game at his alma mater? Who wouldn't pay to see that?
Plus, (more speculation) it seems unlikely that Foothill would get a candidate with a bunch of coaching experience anyway. For all of the program's rich history, it's not a destination job anymore. So if you've got to take a rookie head coach, you might as well take the guy who graduated from your school and just so happens to be one of the most famous athletes from Bakersfield in any sport.
There is at least one major obstacle: Foothill has two open teaching positions, and the Kern High School District prefers on-staff coaches. If a candidate could also fill one of those spots, he likely would get the coaching job no matter how much star power Porter could bring to the table.
There's also the matter of Porter's somewhat checkered past — he was shot as a bystander at a bar fight in Denver, pulled over in Bakersfield on a charge that ended up being dropped by an apparently overzealous police officer and spent a weekend in jail in Las Vegas after bouncing a big check. But none of that is a deal-breaker, I wouldn't think, if interest in the job is mutual and there is no other home run candidate.