Hot and tense.
That was the description provided about the atmosphere at Sunday night’s emergency meeting called for Taylor County’s football team.
What happened at the end left the Bulldogs without a head coach heading into their Week 1 regular-season home game against Dixie County.
Maurice Belser, who had only been head coach and athletic director for a matter of seven weeks, quit after players publicly protested his coaching methodology and treatment of players over summer workouts and in the first weeks of organized practice.
“He said, ‘You want me to leave? If you want me to leave, I’m gone,’” said Taylor County’s long-time de facto team mom and sideline photographer Amy Kallschmidt-Sadler, who was in attendance. “It was not good.”
Anatomy of a break-up
Belser, who was a 1992 national-champion offensive lineman at Alabama and coached by the great Gene Stallings, has had several coaching stints in his home state of Alabama as well as in Florida. All of them have been short.
In 2002 and 2003, Belser was in Aliceville, Ala. From 2004 to 2005, he went 7-13 as the coach of Rickards, but he left to return to Alabama as Hillcrest-Evergreen High’s football coach and athletic director.
Former Rickards athletic director Ricky Ardley told AL.com at the time of Belser’s hire that he saw him as “a young, energetic coach. We thought he would be good for the players, a good role model.”
After going 1-8 with the Raiders in 2005, Belser left and Ardley said, “He kind of left us hanging. That was not good form.”
Belser lasted four years at Hillcrest-Evergreen, producing a record of 8-32. At the end of his last season there, parents and fans of Hillcrest’s program went before the local school board to express their concerns about Belser and he was subsequently removed from his position.
Belser then resurfaced in Florida at Moore Haven (2010-11), and in 2016 he was hired in Naples by Lely High, which had just fired a popular coach. Belser quit in spring 2017, telling the Naples Daily News at the time that he had never been accepted and “it was time to move out of the way and let those guys find a better fit for them.”