Caines dismissed as Santa Barbara High football coach

Dons_Football

Santa Barbara High’s football team will be guided by an interim coach this season after the school dismissed head coach Doug Caines. The interim coach will be selected from the staff.

 

In the spring of 2012, the players on the Santa Barbara High football team circulated a petition requesting that Doug Caines be named the permanent head coach.

Caines, the interim coach at the time, was awarded the job.

That fall, he guided the Dons to a share of the Channel League title — the program’s first league crown since 2001— and a CIF playoff berth.

Last season, Santa Barbara fielded a young squad and finished 4-6.

UPDATE: JT Stone named interim head coach

As the team entered its CIF-mandatory 21-day dead period before beginning official practice for the 2014 season, the school administration dropped a bombshell.

Caines was removed as head coach.

Santa Barbara High Athletic Director Joe Chenoweth said a number of unresolved issues within the football program led to the administration’s decision to relieve Caines of his duties.

“It’s not like any one incident,” Chenoweth said. “It was a number of small things that couldn’t get resolved between himself, me and some of the administration. And for that reason, we decided we needed to make a change.”

Chenoweth said an interim coach will guide the team this season. He plans to interview three members of the football coaching staff on Monday and expects to make a decision by Tuesday. The candidates include Udy Loza, Jaime Melgoza and JT Stone.

Santa Barbara opens the football season on Aug. 29 with a home game against Oxnard.

Chenoweth declined to detail the issues that led to Caines’ dismissal. He did say, though, that they go back to last year.

“It just didn’t happen now, it’s been since the last season; things we tried to work on and get resolved,” he said. “Some things got resolved but not enough did.”

Caines, 31, said he had no idea his coaching job was on the line. “Not the slightest,” he said.

He will keep his teaching position at the school.

“The administration and me couldn’t agree on a couple of things in terms what was best for the football program,” Caines said. “Based on this, they decided to make a leadership change. Obviously, I don’t agree. I can understand the way they look at the scenarios they described and where they’re coming from. I support the decision from their end. I don’t think it’s right. I think it’s the wrong decision, but there’s no ill will towards them.

“I understand where they’re coming from; I disagree with the remedy.”

While his tenure lasted just two seasons, the Dons enjoyed some big moments under Caines. The Dons won two Big Games over crosstown rival San Marcos; the 2012 team, playing with backup quarterback Eli Hale, stunned Dos Pueblos on the road in the regular-season finale to earn a share of the league title; they brought back the Golden Tornado for an exciting CIF playoff game against a potent Cathedral team; last year, with sophomore Brent Peus at quarterback, they rallied from a 35-7 deficit, scoring 41 unanswered points to beat Rio Mesa 48-35.

Chenoweth said the decision was difficult because of Caines’ passion for coaching football and working with the student-athletes.

“He’s absolutely energetic and he has a lot of passion. He really cares for his boys,” Chenoweth said. “He was extremely professional when we spoke to him. When everything was said and done, he said, ‘OK, what can I do to help the program so it can continue to succeed.’

“He wants them to succeed,” Chenoweth continued. “I don’t want to take anything away from him. He had a direction he wanted to go and he was firm to have that direction and move forward. It’s just, with that, there were some things we felt needed to be done to allow him to do what he needs to do. But, from our side of things, we needed to make sure some things were in place and it never happened. For that reason, we couldn’t continue.”

Said Caines: “I don’t think our program is perfect. I know we’ve got some things we’ve got to work on and improve on. I know I’m not a perfect person … I thought I was doing a darn good job and I have a lot of faith in my ability to grow a program. That first year I took over after the first day of spring. It took some time to build my culture. I don’t know if I had a full two years to put my stamp on it. I’m disappointed I really didn’t get the chance to put a group of freshman to seniors and show: ‘OK, this is what Doug Caines is about. This is what he did with freshmen and brought them all the way through. Four years under his leadership and this is what the result is.’

“We fell short a little bit.”

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