Chicken-Fried News: Offsides! 

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After sustained annual budget reductions and this year’s $1.3 billion budget shortfall tackled Oklahoma, public school districts are losing classes, teachers and something even more important to average taxpayers: football coaches.

As Fort Smith, Arkansas, TV station FFSM reported, coaches are crossing the border from Oklahoma to Arkansas to earn more money.

Roland Public Schools superintendent Randy Wood said he doesn’t blame the coach who left his school for seeking a better payday.

“Oklahoma teachers and coaches haven’t had a raise since 2008, 2007, nine years, so when you can make a short move as close as we are to the border and make $10,000 as a teacher, $20,000 as a coach, that’s kind of a no-brainer,” Wood told KFSM.

It’s a call so obvious, even a football coach could make it.

And Roland isn’t the only district losing pigskin professors.

Last year, Poteau High School football coach Greg Werner left to lead the Pointers in Van Buren, Arkansas, and McAlester High School’s Bryan Pratt left for Bentonville.

This year, Mike Loyd departed Grove to head up Rogers High School’s football team and former Tulsa University and Tulsa Union High School coach Bill Blankenship made his way to Fayetteville.

Werner said the mass exodus from Oklahoma schools will continue as long as Arkansas offers better pay.

“If we have a job opening in Van Buren, half the applicants will be from Oklahoma,” he told the TV station. “You hate to say it’s just money, but the money is better. The benefits are better. The retirement system is better and just the fact that it’s a more certain situation than what it is in Oklahoma.”

If the prospect of our Friday Night Lights dimming doesn’t spur action by Oklahoma legislators, it’ll be fourth down for even more Oklahoma athletic programs next season.

Print headline: Offsides!

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