Kids were rebelling, and, in the mind of their coach, needed to pay consequences for it. Parents were up-in-arms. Most of those who were disciplined or kicked off the Basha football team left the school for one of its neighbors: Chandler, Hamilton, Williams Field, Perry and others.
The win-loss record wasn't good enough. It's rarely good enough to keep up with Hamilton, Chandler, Desert Ridge and Mountain Pointe. It's hard to keep up with the Joneses.
Bernie Busken didn't leave Basha because of any one of the aforementioned. He resigned as football coach for a lot of reasons.
The threads that tied those reasons together - and it's hard not to believe those reasons weren't at least a fraction of the equation - was fatigue and family.
In today's coaching world - especially at high-level high school football in the Valley - say hello to the former and goodbye to the latter.
Busken stressed a rash of players leaving and dealing with parents was but a blip on his radar of reasons to move on. After 30 years of coaching, he wasn't going to cow-tow to external pressures, especially when a coach believes they're trying to do what's best for the team, and parents only want what's best for their kid.
But the pressures associated with winning, kids coming and going on a whim, no real "down time" and delusional attitudes are overwhelming, day and night.
For 50 cents per hour, which is what several coaches roughly estimate their coaching stipend equates to in a calendar year, it's often difficult to see the "value" factor on this side of the equation.
"I’m not unhappy, nothing’s wrong," Busken said. "I’ve been thinking about this. I need some 'me' time. "... I feel like I’m better coaching than I’ve ever been. I’m planning and not trying to overdo things. We’ll see. I don’t know if I’ll coach again in high school, or go back to a college. If not, I could go help my friends build houses. There’s things I’m missing out on."
Odds are, Busken will find another coaching job if he so chooses. Hopefully one which better suits his interests and disposition at this stage in life. Whether in the Valley or elsewhere, high school or college, perhaps it'll come without the pressure-cooker that can be a downside to a more "prestigious" job both football and the Chandler school district are respectively perceived to be.
It's not any school or district's fault. More often these days, it's delusional families which make it this way.
It's also the way of the East Valley football world, for better or worse. More and more, however, it's the latter.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.