Ringling residents divided over controversial coaching hire

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RINGLING, Okla. (KXII) -- In a special board meeting Wednesday night, the Ringling School Board of Education hired a new football coach, though the decision is controversial.

"I've lived around here a long time. I'm a Blue Devils fan," Resident Tim Hale said. "I support the Ringling Blue Devils, and Ringling, Oklahoma."

Without a state championship since 2012, Hale says he hopes the new hire of head football coach Phillip Koons will change that.

"Let's get these guys back on, get them on the road, get a good coach in here and take these boys to state." Hale said.

Koons was a long-time coach at Tuttle. The Oklahoman reports he won more than 200 games, and two state championships. He even coached Sooner Heisman Trophy winner Jason White.

But not everyone agrees with the hire, though they are afraid to identify themselves when speaking out about it.

"I don't think any amount of games would be reason enough to hire somebody if there's a question if they were being inappropriate with children." One resident said.

KFOR reported in 2013 that parents of a Tuttle high school football player demanded Koons be fired, after he repeatedly called their son crude names. He resigned a year later.

Then in 2016 he resigned from Clinton, the Oklahoman reporting a controversial incident involving his players. Though an investigation was conducted by the school district, and no wrong-doing was found.

"If there's any question of foul play towards children, or even older kids, he shouldn't even be a question for hire." The anonymous resident said.

But Hale says its just an old school coaching style.

"You know, there's locker room talk. And I think that's what this is," Hale said. "If people really realized what goes on in them locker rooms, and what's shown, and what's said, then maybe some other people would have different opinions about this man."

We reached out to the school's administration, but at the time of this writing, have not heard back.

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