Phoenix St. Mary’s hiring of Tommy Brittain as its new head football coach was the worst-kept secret of the high school football season. Rumors about Brittain and St. Mary’s had swirled for months. It seemed only a matter of when, not if.
When came Monday.
The truth is, Brittain’s departure from Tempe Prep after 14 seasons was pretty much a done deal as far back as September of 2014. That’s when Brittain was suspended two games for asking his son, Isaiah, to lead a team prayer after the team’s 30-22 win over Show Low. In doing so, Brittain violated school policy.
Brittain led Tempe Prep to the state championship game after his return but the issue that led to his suspension never was resolved. Brittain, a man of deep conviction, wants to be able to practice his faith in his role as a football coach. That wasn’t going to be allowed at a public or charter school.
Brittain stayed at Tempe Prep this year so he could coach Isaiah during his senior season. But he knew the end was near, telling me in August, “”I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll try to discern if I’m called to do something different and serve somewhere else.”
That somewhere else is St. Mary’s.
It should be an ideal marriage. St. Mary’s needs some stability in its program and Brittain is one of the state’s top coaches – Tempe Prep has had just one losing season since 2004. As for Brittain, he can practice his faith at a private Catholic school without worrying if it may violate policy or offend others.
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