Jody Grooms is gone. Out the door. Down 121-S and back, when needed, until his family can join him after the school year ends.
Grooms was released from his contract Wednesday morning. His final day was Friday.
He will become the head football coach and athletic director at Wayne County High School in Jesup, Ga.
Grooms was a good football coach. He helped Lakeside High reach its highest level of football success to date.
He also oversaw and allowed the running of a play that will never leave him.
Some say let the past go, and perhaps it should be forgotten. Grooms apologized, won football games and his teams stayed out of trouble on the field the final two seasons.
The reality is that the illegal play the Panthers ran during a season-ending game in 2007 will always be part of Grooms' legacy.
More than two decades have passed since the radio-in-the-helmet fiasco with Evans High School's football team. I was barely walking then, but I can tell you about it from what I have heard since arriving here.
People don't forget bizarre happenings on the playing field -- be it an amazing play or a bizarre bypass of the rules. Thanks to YouTube and media reports, the events can be recalled in great detail.
A Lakeside coach said after the 2009 football season that Grooms might want to stay, that he might want to continue fielding solid football teams in hopes that people could put the play behind him.
It would have hung around anyway. The argument could be made that columns like these and other media reports are the reasons people still talk.
But the story would survive without this newspaper's help. Folks who pack the stands and frequent online forums seem to know more about the event than what they've read, anyway.
Most in Wayne County who care about the football team will probably know. Grooms' reputation will precede him.
But the reputation Grooms was brought in on was as one who can turn programs around. The Yellow Jackets faithful know of the Panthers' former struggles and recent success.
As long as nothing fishy happens in South Georgia, that should be what football fans dwell on.
But don't expect that play to go away. The issue is polarizing. Debate extends to issues of character.
Grooms taught social studies in a Columbia County school. He lost the trust of some. He gained it back from others. He won over the disgruntled with exciting football his final season, united them with a strong showing in the Class AAAA playoffs. Then he left.
The debate began again.
Grooms has left the area. Perhaps we can let it go.
Runner's group gets help
Dale Stoddard read in this newspaper about Robert Eastman's contributions to his city. He went to his fellow members and solicited donations for Eastman's Grovetown Liberty Runners group, which was started to keep children active.
On Feb. 19, Stoddard presented Eastman with a check for $450 to help buy running shoes for this year's participants.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.