When Taylor County High School hired Maurice Belser to be the football coach and athletic director, everyone thought better days might be ahead. As it turns out, though, it was exactly the opposite.
It had only been a matter of weeks that Belser was chosen to lead the Bulldogs in Perry, Florida. The former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman certainly had some coaching experience before to take over for Tanner Jones, but he has officially resigned after an emergency meeting Sunday night, according to USA Today.
The reason? “Players publicly protested his coaching methodology and treatment of players over summer workouts and in the first weeks of organized practice,” per Brian Miller of The Tallahassee Democrat.
“He said, ‘You want me to leave? If you want me to leave, I’m done,” Taylor County’s sideline photographer Amy Kallschmidt-Sadler said. “It was not good.”
Needless to say, the preseason meeting was rather intense.
No matter the time of year, this is definitely not a good look. Player protests aren’t completely uncommon, but the season is coming up and the Taylor County Bulldogs football team don’t have a head coach to play against Dixie County just yet.
According to WTXL, Taylor County Superintendent Danny Glover (no, not the actor) said the two assistant coaches Belser previously fired have been reinstated. Additionally, Taylor County Principal Charles Finley said the schedule will stay the same.
“It’s been tough on the entire district. The timing is not good. But, these kids are resilient, they rally, they want to play football. I know this morning at workouts, they had 55, the most they had all year. So, that’s a good sign for us moving in to today.”
— Superintendent Danny Glover, via WTXL
A member of the Crimson Tide’s 1992 national title team, Maurice Belser has coached at the prep level for over 15 years in Alabama and Florida. He’s been in Aliceville, Alabama, at Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Hillcrest-Evergreen High School in Alabama, Moore Haven in Florida, and Lely High, according to USA Today.
Belser doesn’t exactly have the greatest high school football track record, either. Winning seasons have been very rare. He was given a fresh start as the new Taylor County coach, but he never got to see an actual varsity kickoff because he lost the locker room.
According to Sports Illustrated, Belser kicked three seniors off the team after they missed practice for work. He also publicly kicked off the team’s kicker before a preseason game. Some players were considering boycotting the program because of the morning workouts, too.
“We went to him as players and as a team before it even got to this. We addressed him by ourselves and he still didn’t respect where we were coming from and wasn’t going to change what he was doing. If we’d have continued with how things were going, there would have been even more problems. We felt we had to do something.”
— Taylor County’s Robert Glanton, via Sports Illustrated
Former Rickards athletic director Ricky Ardley once called Belser a “young, energetic coach” and then saw his Raiders team go 1-8. At Hillcrest, Belser went 8-32 and had parents go to the school board to voice their concerns about him, per AL.com. In 2017, his last season of coaching, Belser resigned from Lely because he never felt accepted by the school.
New head coaches have a tough job, for sure, especially at Florida high schools. Everything from morning workouts to pregame rituals are always under scrutiny. However, wins and player happiness usually cure everything.
That wasn’t the case for Maurice Belser at Taylor County. That’s why he quit before the season even started.