South Pitt Coach Chris Jones Discusses Canceling Marion Co Rivalry Game

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South Pittsburg, TN (WDEF-TV) – It seems good rivalries always have a little bad blood, but you never want it to get out of hand. That’s partly why new South Pittsburg head football coach Chris Jones decided to cancel the Pirates long-running rivalry with Marion County.

It’s been reported that Marion County allegedly turned in the Pirates recently for a TSSAA violation, but Marion County athletic director Chuck Keef says that’s not true. Regardless, Jones worries about what could happen in the game, so he decided to pull the plug on the annual grudge match.

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Reporter: “Was it hard for the South Pitt administration to go along with it? Was everybody pretty much on board?”

Said Jones: “You know what. It was one of those things we discussed. We came to the agreement. Some agreed. Some didn’t. This is the decision that was made. Well I played in this. I know what the magnitude of this game is. We took great pride in it and that type thing. Like I say this is a new chapter. We’ve got some big fish to fry in the future.”

Reporter: “Were you afraid there might be some bad blood in this game?”

Said Jones: “Well again you never know what’s going to happen and that type thing. Can’t read into the future. You also can’t. You know somebody says there’s a speed up there on (Highway) 72, you slow down. That’s all I know is the fact that we’re the ones that are on probation, and so we’ve got to watch what we do.”

Reporter: “How difficult was the phone call to Marion County?”

Said Jones: “It was tough. Again Dale Pruitt, I’ve known him for a long time. That’s Jeremy’s dad. I worked with him at the University of Alabama together. Known each other for a long time. Again, any time. My daughters have gone to school there. My son went to school at Marion County, so it’s a big rival.”

Reporter: “Have you had to talk to your players about it. Have you addressed it?”

Said Jones: “We’re not every talking about it because it’s not something that affects what we do. We’ve got one thing in mind. All decisions are made to win a gold ball, and that’s it. And that’s what I’m saying. We’re not trying to win a county championship. We’re trying to win a state championship. I get paid as the head football coach to make big decisions. I’m a big picture thinker. This program is more important than any one regular season game. We’ve got one thing in mind, and that’s to win a gold ball.”

Reporter: “Any idea when this game could be re-addressed?”

Said Jones: “Nope. And I don’t see it. As long as I’m here, it won’t be addressed.”

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.