Friday, February 17, 2017

David Feaster dismissed as Parkway Head Coach

"Coach Feaster and I do not share the same philosophy or vision for Parkway High School athletics."
-Waylon Bates, Principal, Parkway High School.

This statement, released by Bossier Parish Schools Friday morning, officially drew to a close the tenure of David Feaster as head coach of the Parkway Panthers football team.

Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent, Scott Smith, said in a statement, "Coaches work at the pleasure of the principal and it was the decision of the administration to make a change in Parkway's football program."

After six years leading the Panthers, Feaster was told during a meeting Friday that his services as football coach were no longer needed. "It hurts a lot," Feaster said. "It hurts that my daughters don't have a place to go to homecoming... it hurts my son, Joey, who will be a senior, that he will be going to a school where some people hate his Dad. My two younger boys wanted to play for their Dad. So yeah... this hurts a lot."

"In Louisiana," Feaster said, "the principal runs the school---if he doesn't want me there, I don't want to be there. I don't like the fact I was fired as if I did something wrong.  He (Mr. Bates) strongly encouraged me to find something else and go because he would prefer me to be out of the building." Despite losing his job as the head coach, Feaster retains his job as a math teacher at the school. 

The news of Feaster's dismissal was first reported by Roy Lang III in the Shreveport Times. Feaster's ouster comes at the end of a tumultuous week that started with former star Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris announcing his intent to transfer from LSU after graduating in June and ended with Parkway having a vacancy in the head football coach's office.

Friday morning, Harris said from Baton Rouge, "I don't understand firing a guy who has won 80-90% of his games. How do you fire that guy?" In 2013, Harris was the starting quarterback on the Feaster-coached Parkway squad that reached the Class 5A state championship game, losing to Acadiana. "He's the coach that put Parkway on the map. Who do you replace him with? I'll put Coach Feaster against any coach in the (Shreveport-Bossier) area.. He took our team, that really wasn't that talented, to the championship game... we finished 14-1. I just don't understand it. I'm at a loss for words." 

HOW WE GOT HERE

Feaster, a vocal supporter of Harris during the senior's three seasons as a Tiger, was quoted in an article in The Advocate Tuesday detailing Harris' decision to leave LSU after completing his coursework required for graduation in June:

"Harris' former high school coach at Parkway, David Feaster, has often aired his grievances about how Miles used Harris. In an interview with The Advocate less than two weeks ago, Feaster called the "treatment" of Harris "an issue" and said he's spoken to LSU's new staff about it.

“They all know we’ve been watching closely for three years about how Brandon (Harris) has been treated. They know it’s an issue,” Feaster said. “It’s something they’d like to resolve or work around because we’re going to continue to have players LSU wants. … The way Brandon has been treated at LSU is going to have a huge effect on the recruitment of Parkway players and players around here.”-Ross Dellenger, The Advocate
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I reached out to Feaster Tuesday morning to see if he wanted to expound on his comments made to The Advocate. He, along with nearly two dozen local/area high school football coaches, have regular slots each week during football season on our daily radio show on KWKH, 1130 The Tiger. Typically, we discuss their upcoming games, players, LSU football and a multitude of non-football topics. They also make regular appearances on the show during the lead-up to National Signing Day, during Spring Football and in the summer as football season draws near, so Feaster's appearance on our show Tuesday was not out of the ordinary.
During the interview, Feaster mentioned that, despite the situation with Harris, he still pulled for LSU, recalling a FaceTime conversation with Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron on National Signing Day. He reiterated his position that LSU coaches were always welcome in his locker room but maintained his stand that Alabama's coaching staff is not welcome at Parkway. This "policy" was first mentioned on our show in 2015. "It's been like this for awhile now and I could go into detail, but I don't think you have time," Feaster said.
Wednesday, Feaster was a guest on 104.5 FM, a Baton Rouge ESPN radio affiliate. Booked to discuss Harris' transfer, the subject switched to his reiteration from the day before to keep Alabama coaches off Parkway's campus.  Feaster told the Baton Rouge crew, (former) Alabama assistant coaches Doug Nussmeier and Billy Napier, while recruiting in 2013,
"loved Harris," and wanted to offer him a scholarship. Feaster remembers asking how many other quarterbacks the Crimson Tide were recruiting at the time. "They said, 'six or seven,' So I said, 'You really haven't offered anybody.' They said, 'An offer from us at quarterback is really an offer to come to camp.' I said, 'OK. I understand what you're saying. You are offering these kids to meet Nick Saban.'"
Feaster said after Napier saw film of Harris' spring game in 2013 at Parkway, the Alabama assistant called him and said Harris was "phenomenal." Feaster was told to call back during a certain time period to speak to Coach Saban. "We do that," Feaster recalled, and Saban says, "You have a scholarship at the University of Alabama."  By the time Harris arrived at Alabama for an on-campus visit in June, Feaster said, "What they told him is that we got other guys that are going to come through here and I promised them a shot. So we have to wait and see then." 

Based on what Feaster considered a scholarship offer to Harris being pulled, he vowed to not help Alabama in their efforts to recruit his players from that point moving forward.

Two current Parkway standouts, quarterback Justin Rogers and wide receiver Terrace Marshall, are among the top recruits at their positions in the 2018 recruiting class. Both players currently field 24 scholarship offers with Marshall, ironically, holding an offer from Alabama. 

WOULD HE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY?

When asked if he thought his coaching job would have been jeopardized had the school banned from Parkway been Middle Tennessee, or Auburn, or someone other than Alabama, Feaster said, "Since it's Alabama, they'll have the number one recruiting class; play for a national title. The feeling seems to be, 'you're hurting Marshall's chances of going to Alabama. You ought to do all you can to get Saban back to campus to recruit Marshall.' Just because they're Alabama, we should overlook their indiscretions? That's not right. On national signing day this year, they ended up gray-shirting a young man who had been told all along he had a scholarship at Alabama. Just because it's Nick Saban and Alabama, we should put up with it? If it's Middle Tennessee State or a lesser school, no, I don't think it would have been this big of a deal."

"For me," Harris said, "he's such a good mentor.  He has been a tremendous help during this process (transfer). I had three seasons with him. He always backed his players. This stings so much. He had such an impact on my life. People may not like what he said, but if you sit back and rationalize it, he makes sense."

Feaster has been a head coach 18 years, compiling a record of 168-66 (Shreveport Times). Regarding his "ban" of Alabama coaches, Feaster told The Times Friday, "Am I the only coach who does this? Surely, I thought this was a fairly common practice. I stand by the idea: If you're going to do that to Brandon Harris, you're going to do that to Justin Rogers or Terrace Marshall, too. I tell the kids, 'If you want to go to Alabama, go to Alabama. I'm not going to help them recruit you because an offer is not necessarily an offer."

Feaster also told The Times his former principal Dr. Nichole Bourgeois, currently the assistant superintendent for Bossier schools, may want to weigh in on this matter eventually. "I would say she hired me to be the football coach and, 'you go make these decisions. If you get on the radio and talk about stuff, you deal with what people say about it.' I always felt she may or may not have agreed with everything I said, but she felt it was my job and I should do it."

Harris wanted to make sure people knew his former coach didn't just help guide the four-star and five-star players. "He has helped so many kids during his career get scholarships, not just Division I schools.. Coach (Jim) Gatlin started turning the Parkway program around... Chris Hill kept it going, but Coach Feaster put is in a spot to contend for a state title."

That task will now fall to someone else at Parkway High School.  

Thursday, according to Feaster,  Mr. Bates asked the coach if he had read what people had been saying about him. "No," Feaster said. "I don't take an opinion poll before I do what I think is right for our program. Would I do anything differently? No.' He said, 'I'm the principal, we aren't banning anyone from this school. If Nick Saban comes here, you will show him around the school."  

Today, Feaster was called into the Principal's office for the second day in a row.  "I should have known when he called me into the office today--but no, I didn't think I was walking in to be fired." According to Feaster, Mr. Bates told him, 'there was too much negative publicity on social media... to make that go away, we're going to relieve you of your coaching duties.'"

"The bad news?" Feaster continued. "If you get beat up bad enough on social media, you can get fired."

We reached out to Bossier Schools spokesperson, Sonja Bailes to try and arrange an interview with Mr. Bates. Bailes replied to the email request, "He's not granting interviews, just the statement we provided."

After leaving the Principal's office, no longer employed as the head coach, Feaster said he went home "to hug my wife." Wearing his typical red, black and white ensemble with the Parkway logo adorning the left breast of his coaching shirt, Feaster said before returning to the school, "I felt funny wearing Parkway gear, so I reached into my closet and grabbed my Fellowship of Christian Athletes gear."

A change he didn't see coming.