Maurice Belser quit his job at Taylor County High School heading into the first week of the regular season.
Former Taylor County High School football coach and athletic director Maurice Belser quit his position as football coach and was relieved of his duties as athletic director after just seven weeks there following a player protest regarding the way he has handled the football team, according to Brian Miller of the Tallahassee Democrat.
Belser was hired in July to replace Tanner Jones, who left the program following a five-year stint. Belser was an offensive lineman on Alabama's 1992 national championship-winning team and has coached since 2002. His coaching career has consisted of short stints at high schools across Alabama and Florida. Prior to coming to Taylor County, Belser was at Tanner High in Alabama but left following a 3-8 season that was the school's first losing season in 15 years.
After taking over at Taylor County, a rift was created between Belser and the players and some of the assistant coaches. The new coach and athletic director had players and parents sign contracts that explained the players' responsibilities to the team including attending practices and workouts and maintaining a certain GPA.
During the third week of training camp, Belser kicked three seniors off the team after they missed practice for work. This move created a major schism between the coach and players.
Star player Robert Glanton said the team tried to resolve the issue with the coach and also address some other concerns the team had with the practice schedule. The team was practicing at 6:30 a.m. before school and then following school and study hall causing players to spend more than 12 hours on campus. They asked to have the morning workouts reduced to just Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and for the seniors who were kicked off to be reinstated.
"We went to him as players and as a team before it even got to this," Glanton said. "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."
Then, just before the team's preseason game on Friday, Belser kicked off the team's kicker publically in front of the team, according to players.
However, Belser had a different account of some of the events. He told Miller the problems with the team started with players skipping practices, workouts and team study halls even though he gave them a grace period to adjust to the schedule he tried to implement and offered players the chance to make up work they missed. He said Glanton was among the players who had poor attendance at the morning workouts and he missed study hall and showed up late to practice.
He also added that the seniors he initially kicked off had an opportunity to return to the team and that other players were able to make the practice schedule work with their work schedules. Belser said one of the players who was kicked off came back to practice without any drama, but then did not return to another practice, nor did he complete the paperwork to get reinstated or get a physical, which is required to take the field.
"Things like early morning workouts, many did not show up," Belser told Miller. "Players didn't show up to regular practice on time. I consistently had issues with that. I had a tremendous problem with kids not coming to study hall, which was mandatory before practice. Players refused to go to study hall and parents supported that."
Belser also said the team's kicker was not kicked off the team but that he was given a choice on how to handle discipline for forgetting his cleats for the preseason contest. The player was allowed to either get his cleats after the team meal and then not kick as punishment or leave. Additionally, he noted that he planned to reduce the workout schedule to what the players requested in their meeting, but wanted to wait because he increased the workout schedule to make up for all the missed practices.
The players were considering boycotting the program in the lead-up to the regular-season opener, but Belser ended up quitting during an emergency meeting that took place Sunday. WTXL Tallahassee reports Belser fired two assistant coaches prior to the meeting, but they have since been reinstated to the program.
Superintendent Danny Glover will be the Bulldogs' interim coach but there is still no word how the athletic director position will be filled.