Football: Finley resigns from coaching duties at Washington, heads to Armijo

Karl Finley got a Gatorade bath from his players after a win over Lincoln in the AAA semifinals last season, but resigned from his coaching duties at Washington on Tuesday. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Karl Finley got a Gatorade bath from his players after a win over Lincoln in the AAA semifinals last season, but resigned from his coaching duties at Washington on Tuesday. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

(Developing story)

UPDATE (Jun. 29, 8:45 a.m.): We were able to talk to Finley early this morning and this is the full transcript of our conversation. I guess the first question is why? Why leave Washington?

Karl Finley: It was one of the hardest things to do. We had a good core of kids and a great program that was in line to compete for another Turkey Day championship, but I’m driving 100 miles round trip. That was getting difficult.

SFP: But why now? Why leave in late June?

Finley: It was an opportunity that came up. I had not been actively seeking something out, but something came up and I evaluated the situation. It’s not like I jumped for a perennially-powerful job. We took an opportunity to improve a program.

SFP: Did anything else influence you to leave?

Finley: We were forced to take a teacher on as our [junior varsity] coach on [last season]. That took away control from me. I had no oversight and no control over who he hired or what he run. My quarterback in spring football didn’t know plays and they didn’t know schemes. They were ready to play varsity, but just didn’t know what we were doing. They were running a spread shotgun scheme, which is not what we were doing [on varsity]. It was frustrating working in spring with the guys coming in. By the end of spring, we were where we were supposed to be at the beginning of the spring.

SFP: Did you get a chance to tell your players about you leaving?

Finley: Things happened kinda quick and I didn’t realize that it would happen that way. I had coaches calling me a day after I took the job to ask if I was leaving. I never had a chance to let [the players] know and I won’t have a chance to talk to them until they get off break, on July 10. It’s unfortunate that they have to hear about it through the grapevine. Everything just happened so fast. The saddest thing for me was leaving the players. They’re great kids and they’ve come so far.

(Original story posted Thursday night)

After five years as the head football coach at Washington High School, in which he won an Academic Athletic Association championship and made four Turkey Day appearances, Karl Finley resigned from the position on Tuesday.

Finley did not return repeated phone calls, messages and emails on Thursday, but Washington athletic director Lawrence Chan confirmed the resignation and the San Francisco Section’s website has the coaching position at the school listed as “TBA.”

Chan also confirmed that the Eagles’ 2012 schedule is set, but declined to comment on any other topic regarding Finley or the search for a replacement.

According to the Daily Republic, a newspaper in Solano County, Finley left Washington to take over the head coaching job at Armijo High School in Fairfield, where he will continue his habit of rebuilding high school programs.

Armijo went 1-9 last season and Finley, a Marin County Vallejo resident who works at the Marin County Jail in San Rafael, succeeded at rebuilding in prior stops at San Rafael and Tamalpais. He also spent two years as the head coach at the College of Marin in Kentfield.

Finley did not indicate why he left Washington in the Daily Republic article, but did speak to his time with the Eagles.

“They were a little disorganized,” Finley told Paul Farmer of the Daily Republic. “There was not a lot of structure going on. We got a few kids out who had not played before. We kept things as simple as we could. We were pretty fortunate with the small numbers we had. They needed a little discipline, a little structure. We had some great kids. They weren’t the best athletes. They worked hard and I had a real good coaching staff.”

Washington was far from a reclamation project when he took over in 2007, but the Eagles had missed the playoffs in the two previous years. Finley led Washington to playoff appearances in all five of his years, including a Turkey Day championship in 2010, an undefeated AAA season in 2011 and an 29-10 overall record in AAA play.

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21 Comments on "Football: Finley resigns from coaching duties at Washington, heads to Armijo"

  1. Jerome Parson | June 28, 2012 at 8:47 PM |

    He’s a scumbag. How are you just going to leave those kids like that right before season started then had the nerve to talk down on them. He wasn’t good anyways didn’t know how to use the talent he had. The Eagles will bounce back

    • Internet guy | June 29, 2012 at 12:40 AM |

      I’m a player on the team…He was a good coach.

    • based on this article and his record, hes a pretty good coach when he has good players and who can run his system. he acted before thinking of the right way to make his exit. then he put down the underclassmen and their coaching staff. but i dont blame him for finding work closer to his home. who wants to commute 100 miles a day for a job that doesnt pay him probably enough to cover his gas money and bridge tolls daily?

      these are juicy articles JB… cant wait for the Domingo article when he announces that he’s transferring out.

  2. Never knew him and can’t really judge his coaching abilities. However, I think some (not all) coaches who go through the AAA try to use it as a springboard to other opportunities. As this article states, Finley worked at a jail so he was an outside coach. I guess no one inside Washington wanted to coach the team.

    The best coaches are probably the ones who either played in the AAA or currently teach in the district (or at the school they coach at). I’m not saying these coaches are the best tacticians but at least you know they will work with the kids inside AND outside the football field.

    Someone will take the job at Washington. Despite what Finley says, Washington is a solid school and program.

  3. I have no respect for a coach who jumps ship right before the season. If you don’t leave in December or January, then you are committing for the year. Football is a year-long sport. It takes preparation and commitment. How does he have any credibility with his players at Armijo now? What will happen to the players at Wash who have been working all Spring and Summer for the season?


  4. I wonder if Coach Finley has any nice things to say about his time at Wash. He went 29-10 in five years, made the playoffs every year, had an undefeated season, and won a championship, but yet he couldn’t find anything other than, “we had some great kids” and “they worked hard?” Seems to me he was only there until another opening (or a coaching position that he wanted) opened up. Wash will continue to be a success.

  5. Bobby Hill | June 29, 2012 at 8:26 AM |

    Coach Finley was a good coach I agree with everybody else’s comment how is he just gonna leave right before the season is gonna start I understand he trying to put his name out there by trying to lift up that other team but he helped us so much I can’t think of a reason why he would leave he did EXCELLENT last season we went UNDEAFTED becuase of him and he’s gonna leave without telling us!! The whole team is falling apart becuase no coaches but you know what we have Coach Rick as head coach so I believe he’s gonna bring us to play offs and win turkey day and when finley sees us win he’s gonna tell himself damn I shoul of never left the EAGLES and went to that other school, it doesn’t matter if they are a better division tell them to scrimmage or even play us we’ll beat them any day BECUASE WE HAVE BETTER COACH’s

    I hope you read this and seen what you’ve done

  6. i think it’s kind of a coward move on finelys part due to the fact that he couldn’t adress the team face to face like he should have done.! As a former player this season its going to be another loss we have in our coaching staff, but we will keep on strtiving for better even without him on the sideline. yea, finely made us a playoff worthy team but i think even without him our other coach (coach rick) can be just as powerful and take us to yet another playoff season even turkey day!!!!

  7. “SFP: Did anything else influence you to leave?

    Finley: We were forced to take a teacher on as our [junior varsity] coach on [last season]. That took away control from me. I had no oversight and no control over who he hired or what he run. My quarterback in spring football didn’t know plays and they didn’t know schemes. They were ready to play varsity, but just didn’t know what we were doing. They were running a spread shotgun scheme, which is not what we were doing [on varsity]. It was frustrating working in spring with the guys coming in. By the end of spring, we were where we were supposed to be at the beginning of the spring.”

    This right here is the real reason. If you are a good coach you get the guy ready to play. This guy is even more of a joke after I read this. This guy couldn’t hold Coach Keeves clip board. Coach Rick is a good dude and the program is in better hands now

  8. Oh and he talks about frustrated with having jr varsity running a different program try spewing that crap to Phillip Burton, Thurgood Marshall, and Mission of the past im sure they would take that “frustration” with open arms. Sorry for the rant but you just don’t do that to kids especially this age who look up to their coach

  9. Man people need to stop assuming and start getting actual facts. Coach Finley had been looking for coaching jobs for the past couple of offseasons, he lives in Marin the commute to come to wash was close to 70 miles round trip everyday, he made this move because it was more convenient for him, was it terrible timing? Yes! He didn’t go out the right way, but we have to appreciate what he did for our program at wash. I played at wash from 05-09. And I helped coach from 10-present….he could have handled his exit better but we still have to appreciate what he did for our program my freshman and sophomore years at wash we missed the playoffs and would.lose tons of players due to grades, he.came in nd help change our culture I’m not saying hew the best or the way he left was ok because its not, but lets not talk about him like he’s some scum

    • According to a correction in the article, he lives in Vallejo. I’m sure the traffic from Vallejo to Fairfield is 10x better than the trip from the bankrupt town Vallejo to SF. Not to mention no more bridge tolls. That’s probably thousands of dollars in savings on gas and no bridge tolls. It may look bad the way he left, but the guy didn’t get paid millions of dollars, and he’s doing what’s best for him and his family.

  10. And I agree with a lot of you he shouldn’t have said anything about his former players unless it was praise, that was a bad look on his part

  11. You know who | June 29, 2012 at 1:41 PM |

    Simple as this. I am a current player on wash. Finley is the past. Coach Rick is the future along with Coach Bill, Coach Will, and Coach Jorge and I promise they’re about to start a dynasty. Rick has HIGH FOOTBALL IQ and is know for winning and so are the other coaches. We didn’t lose a beat and we are STILL going to be feared. If anything, this is gonna make us stronger because the coaches that we have have faith in us and we’re gonna make them proud and play at 200% because they stayed for a reason, because they know we are capable of winning a championship. It shows that through everything, these coaches that are currently with us are loyal and want to be here.

    • Who’s your kicker this year? I hope your team actually has one so you dont have to go for 2pt conversions all the time.

  12. "Athlete" | June 29, 2012 at 3:25 PM |

    I don’t really have much to say, and I’m still in shock and awe from the abrupt news. But it was an honor to play for you Coach, You have taught me to mature as a football player as well a young man. What’ve you done for the team and program is invaluable. Best of luck to you Coach and the Armijo Indians.

  13. WashDad11 | June 30, 2012 at 7:00 PM |

    Coach Finley is a good coach and he and his staff were dedicated to the Eagles. All past and present players at both the Varisty and JV Levels should be proud of their accomplishments. As someone whom has done long 100-mile plus roundtrip commutes, its doable for about 5-years then it takes its toll on one’s self and their families. I can understand why Coach Finley would choose to make this change, but its unfortunate that he couldn’t do it sooner, or have an opportunity to address the players before it hit the media.

    Football is a TEAM SPORT and in this game the more time players play together and work together as a unit, the better they become. Coaches make a huge difference in the game of football. As parents we entrust them to teach our sons how to be competitive, proper sportsmenship, how to become a man and be accountable. Its important that teammates stand up for each other and their team. Nothing in life comes easy. Hard decisions have to made, often times they are unpopular. Coach had to make one this past week. Thank you for your service and good luck!

    What saddens me are the negative comments about his own players, the JV squad and the JV Coach and his staff. To say he “lost control” is not accurate. The JV TEAM should be proud of what they accomplished. Coach Castro is also a good person, a good coach and a standup man. Coach Finley’s gripe with him is mis-guided; it should be with the Atheltic Director and the Principal as they were not forthcoming and honest with either of the head coaches and they fostered a situation that caused discomfort for both of them.

    As a parent that spends a lot of time on the sidelines, what I would like to see is a situation whereby both head coaches are on the same page in terms of the types of programs they are entrusted with. Both teams need to support each other and stand up for each other and be united. The JV team needs to stand on its on legs and it needs to have the talent it needs to be competitive. What’s the point in pulling a sophmore up if he’s not going to play? Better to keep him on the jv team so he gets playing time, in the end, this only makes him a better player and a more ready player when he reaches the varsity level.

    I hope Coach Rick stays and becomes the Varsity Coach, he is certainly deserving of it. I hope Coach Castro remains the JV Coach. I hope they and their respective staffs both learn the value of working together for the common good which are the dedicated players on both of these teams.

    I hope the players that are struggling with their grades learn the value of maintaining good grades so they not only can participate in the games, but mnore importantly for their future beyond high school. Don’t cut your life short by being lazy or nonchalant about your grades now. I hope the players learn discipline, learn the value of being at every practice, and lastly, I hope these young Eagles strive to do better each and every day! The choice is yours, choose wisely and then make a plan to make it happen!

  14. with the state of sports in the fairfield school district and the threat of eliminating sports due to funding, I find it interesting he would go to a school district that may not have any sports. regarding his comments about his jv coach and his reasoning that they ran different systems that falls on coach finley. as a varsity head coach myself, i make sure that my jv coaches run what I want them to run even if it is just a few of my plays. coach finley needed to talk with his jv coach an make sure that they can at least run a few of the varsity plays so when the sophomores move up they will know some of the varsity stuff.

    • WashDad11 | July 2, 2012 at 9:41 PM |

      I concur AAA, but as we both have likely experienced “lack of communication” is often what turns minor issues into major issues. Add that to the inabilty to see things from each other’s perspective and toss in a little to much ego and you have the recipe for failure. Last season and this past spring and summer I had hoped to see Coach Finley take more of an interactive role with Coach Castro, but it never materialzed. They both ran successfull programs, but like you said, there’s got to be some familiarity and continuity to build on.

      I can understand wanting to minimize one’s overall commute, as I done that a whole lot the past 10-years, but you’ve brought up an excellant point re: the state of the Fairfield School District. I most certainly hope that sports are not eliminated there (or anywhere else) as I believe we’ve already had to many cutbacks already across the board and our kids need more sports and physical activity!

      It’ll be interesting to see how all of this plays out, on both sides of the fence, Parents and Students/Players often don’t realize the sacrifices people make to be coaches. I myself coached soccer for 8-years and bastketball for 2-years, but never at the high school level, so I tip my hat to you and I thank you! The world needs more people who care enough to get involved with the next generation.

  15. Alex Martin | July 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM |

    “Whatever you do, good or bad, people will always have something negative to say.”

    First off I want to start by saying that I played for Coach Finley for two years 2008-2009 (He led us to Championship both of those years). He was a great example and a great Coach who Coached us both on and off the field. He pushed us to become better athletes and better young men. I’m disappointed he decided to leave but that’s part of the game, you have to be able to handle adversity and be able to adapt. Coaches leave schools, find what they think may be better opportunities, or get fired all the time! Without Coach Finley or Coach Puryear I probably wouldn’t be playing today. Coach Finley and Coach Puryear did their best to help get us noticed by 4 year school so we could play at the next level and there are a few of us that got there. I wish Coach Finley the best of luck!

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