HUNTINGTON — It’s been a wild 36 hours for both the Cabell Midland and Ironton (Ohio) high school football programs.
At the end of it all, though, Cabell Midland head coach Luke Salmons is staying put with the Knights, and Ironton is moving forward in its process to find a new coach to replace Mark Vass, who continues to teach at Ironton but no longer is coaching.
On Wednesday, Salmons confirmed that he had declined an offer to become the next football coach of the Fighting Tigers. Ironton athletic director Mark LaFon also confirmed Salmons’ decision.
“I told them that I wasn’t taking the job,” Salmons said.
“Coach Salmons has decided not to accept the position and we are actively pursuing the remainder of the candidates,” LaFon said.
Confusion ensued on Tuesday night after reports surfaced from the Ironton Board of Education’s monthly meeting that Salmons had been unanimously approved to be the next football coach of the Fighting Tigers. At the meeting, the board members voted 4-0 to accept the recommendation of Salmons to be hired as an intervention specialist and as the new football coach. Salmons, however, was not present to accept or decline the position at the time once that recommendation was passed by the board.
According to sources present at the meeting, once the recommendation was accepted, many of the public patrons at the meeting left. It wasn’t soon after that social media was abuzz with word that Salmons would be the coach.
There was only one issue. Salmons had not accepted the job.
The veteran coach of the Knights had submitted his application and interviewed for the position, but also wanted to take time to weigh his options, consult with his family, the Cabell Midland administration, team and others involved in such a move to figure out what would be the best step for his future as a football coach.
Salmons said he was at home on Tuesday night when his phone started receiving numerous messages concerning the position.
“It’s frustrating,” Salmons said. “You have to keep going and God will take of it. I didn’t want to be in this situation. I wanted time to process things.”
Ironton’s head football coaching position has drawn lots of interest from those within the district and those, like Salmons, who are outside of the district, according to LaFon.
LaFon said that there were more than 30 applicants, and he whittled the list down to those whom he thought would be the best candidate to fill the position, which had been posted in the last couple months.
Seven of those applicants — Salmons included — were interviewed for the position.
With the school board convening only once a month, many of those on social media expressed worry that the hire might take until May, which is right before the end of the school year.
LaFon said that will not be the case with Ironton’s head coaching position.
“When I say we are actively pursuing the other candidates, that means we will be finalizing this in an expedient manner,” LaFon said. “We will not be waiting a month to finish this.”