HAMILTON — Chad Murphy’s six-year run as head football coach at Hamilton High School ended Tuesday morning.
Murphy met Monday afternoon with Hamilton City School District assistant superintendent for human resources Chad Konkle and HHS principal John Wilhelm and was given an ultimatum that in Murphy’s mind left no choice.
“I am not going to beat around the bush,” Murphy said. “You can say I resign as opposed to being fired. I was told I could be fired, let go or resign. I am not a quitter, and I would have never quit on this football team. Let’s be honest, I am not resigning for health reasons.”
The Hamilton athletic department referred all questions to district communications director Joni Copas. Several messages left for Copas were not returned.
Konkle issued the following statement by email:
“Chad Murphy has submitted his letter of resignation today as head football coach of Hamilton High School. The district appreciates the six years that Coach Murphy has spent as the head coach. His commitment to supporting our student-athletes in the classroom, on the field and after graduation is second to none. The search for the next head coach will begin immediately.”
Murphy posted a 14-46 record at Hamilton. He did not have a winning season during his tenure, going (in order) 1-9, 0-10, 4-6, 5-5, 3-7 and 1-9.
His Greater Miami Conference record was 9-35, and the highest finish for Big Blue was a three-way tie for fifth place in 2015. Hamilton’s last winning season came in 2010 under Bob Jacoby.
Murphy informed the team in an emotional meeting Tuesday morning. He acknowledged the record wasn’t great, but contends the wins and losses don’t show the entire picture.
The Big Blue lost two quarterbacks (Khaliyal Sowell and Quincy Simms-Marshall) to injuries this year and went direct snap to sophomore tailback Keyshawn Stephens, yet remained competitive in a GMC that’s sending four teams to the Division I playoffs.
Stephens responded with 1,247 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“We lost a D-I quarterback in Week 3 and our backup Week 4, so we used a running back the rest of the way,” Murphy said. “Now (Stephens) will go down as the best back Hamilton High will ever have, but it is hard to go wildcat in the GMC.”
Murphy came to Hamilton after going 17-14 in three seasons at Northwest, leading the Knights to the Division II playoffs in 2012.
Northwest had not had a winning season in 21 years until Murphy went 7-3 in 2011. The Knights hadn’t made the postseason in 22 years before Murphy achieved that, and he also earned an Ohio Coach of the Year award in 2012.
“I loved coaching at Hamilton,” Murphy said. “I had several people try to talk me out of coming to Hamilton, but I liked the challenge. I was coming off a good run where I had a lot of offers, but this stood out. I could have stayed at Northwest and had a good run in the Southwest Ohio Conference, but Hamilton appealed to me.
“Let’s be honest … people talk about the football tradition at Hamilton High, but they have been to the playoffs four times in 38 years. They have had a few good players and a few good select teams, but overall not a lot of success. I felt we had changed the culture, and we were getting there. “
Murphy mentioned Ohio High School Hall of Famers Jim Place and Jacoby as former coaches who have won state titles elsewhere, but struggled to win at HHS.
Murphy admitted he was caught off guard in the meeting Monday and said he never met with the school board or athletic director Todd Grimm about possibly not returning.
“I didn’t get a reason,” Murphy said. “Obviously I know the record wasn’t great, but this year our team was really young. We knew we had to stay injury-free, and we didn’t. That being said, we were still competitive in all but three of our games and against playoff teams.”
Murphy will remain a teacher at Hamilton and said he will immediately begin searching for his next coaching job, either in high school or the collegiate ranks.
“I love those dudes,” Murphy said of his teams. “The kids battled, and we gave it all we had. I had several chances to leave Hamilton, but I still believe in those kids. I believe if you ask that football team who they want, it is a no-brainer. I don’t want to leave. All I asked of them was to love their teammates and love their city. I wish them the best.
“I love the time I put in at Hamilton, the effort I put in and the love I put in. I truly believe I would have had the best team in my six years coming back next year. We had a ton of sophomores playing this year. Not only that, it would have been the best locker room coming back in my time at Hamilton. I put my heart and soul into this. This wasn’t just a job. These kids were my life.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.