Fans, boosters react with surprise at coach's resignation
Nov. 28, 2011 at 5:28 a.m.
MICKEY FINLEY IN VICTORIA
2007: Memorial (5A), 2-8, missed playoffs.
2008: Memorial, 5-5 (5A), lost in bi-district round of playoffs.
2009: Memorial, 4-6 (5A), missed playoffs
2010: Victoria East (4A), 11-2, lost in regional round of playoffs
2011: Victoria East (4A), 7-5, lost in area round of playoffs.
Grammarians and those that parse words may have been the first to realize that Victoria East football coach Mickey Finley would not be returning for a third season on the sidelines.
Following the Titans elimination from the playoffs earlier this month, Finley said "they have a lot of young players."
Monday, the longtime coach made his retirement official to the surprise of some and the expectation of others.
"I would like to thank the communities of Victoria, Cuero, and Schulenburg for giving me such great memories," Finley said in a statement. "At this point, the time has simply come for me to spend more time with my family and let someone else take the reins of the Titans program."
Fred Wallace, president of the East Titans Football Booster Club, did not know about Finley's departure until contacted for comment.
"I think he's drawn together a good program," Wallace said. "He's led us to back-to-back playoff appearances. This year, he had the odds stacked against him. Right off the bat we had some pretty severe injuries and some other issues that we were able to battle through. Wherever he goes he is going to have some success."
The success has never been a problem. In 34 seasons, Finley won 221 games, appeared in two state championships with Cuero and won countless district championships.
But, because Finley was the head coach at seven schools before coming to Victoria in February 2007, Mack Peoples was not surprised he left after five seasons. Peoples said he hates to see Finley go because he brought a new edge to varsity football here.
"I think the kids buy into what he does," Peoples said. "He surrounds himself with guys who have played Division I and they have a good terminology for football."
In five seasons in Victoria Finley compiled a 29-26 record. Once East opened in 2010, he led the Titans to an 18-7 record and consecutive playoff appearances.
Considering that success, Corpus Christi residents Delfino and Valencia Cantu found Finley's retirement curious.
Delfino might be from the Rio Grande Valley but recalls Victoria having good football players dating back to the early 90s.
He added it has been his experience that when coaches leave successful programs there are usually politics and other behind the scenes issues at play.
There may have been a power struggle and other unknown elements to Finley's departure, but 2005 Memorial graduate Chris Davis said those never translated onto the football field.
Davis attends most home games to support his cousin Will Luckey, a junior lineman on the team.
He noticed that Finley put players in a position to be successful, something previous coaching regimes might not have done.
"The coaches, they were too divided and nitpicking," Davis recalled about Memorial when he was in high school. "From what I saw, (Finley) put the people that needed to be out there and not just because he's Jim's son."