Father Jim Heuser, the new president at Don Bosco Prep, might be a fine man of the cloth, but he is one gigantic and lousy liar.
Heuser keeps saying to anyone who is willing to listen that legendary head football coach Greg Toal, the man who spent the last 17 years of his life building the Ironmen into a perennial national powerhouse, retired.
Heuser maintains that Toal simply had enough and wanted to step aside.
Which is an absolute crock of dog dung.
Plain and simple, Toal was fired. Removed. Asked to leave. Kicked to the curb. There’s no dancing around that fact. Toal was gone, replaced by his former quarterback Mike Teel of Rutgers fiasco fame.
Anyone who knows Toal and his competitive desire would know that the man wouldn’t leave the program he built on a season that didn’t exactly go to plan, a year that didn’t end up at MetLife Stadium in the Non-Public Group 4 title game. Anyone who knows Toal knows that he would want another crack at his 10th state title or perhaps his third mythical national crown.
That’s just Toal’s personality. He’s driven by winning. He wasn’t going out on a 6-5 season, one that ended in defeat in the sectional semifinals to eventual champion Paramus Catholic.
But the new powers-that-be didn’t like the way Toal ran things. There are supposed to be no such thing as scholarships on the high school level, but there was no hiding the fact that kids traveled from all over the state to play football in northern Bergen County.
Some came from Scotch Plains. That’s a location that is simply not possible to commute from. Others came from Paulsboro. Go ahead, look that one up on the map and see if a kid could commute from Paulsboro to Ramsey. Not unless he owned a helicopter.
For years, Toal and the Bosco football program got away with the scholarship routine. Or better yet, found a way to circumvent it.
The process forced other New Jersey parochial schools to follow suit so they could keep up with the Ironmen. There’s no way in the world that the Paramus Catholic team that won the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 title last December didn’t have scholarship players on its roster. Same can be said for the losing team that day at MetLife Stadium, St. Peter’s Prep.
It’s a way of life now in Catholic school athletics in New Jersey. It’s common place.
But it’s a process that began in football with Don Bosco Prep. And it’s a process that Father Heuser wanted stopped immediately. No more scholarships. If a kid wants to go to DBP, he pays tuition.
Toal was used to the old ways, of dictating the pace and setting the tempo. Toal was bigger than the school itself, taking his team all over the country to play football. He was successful at every single coaching stop in his career and last year joined the exclusive 300-win club among New Jersey high school coaches. It’s a select group of legends who have a place in that club, names like Warren Wolf, Frank Bottone, the late Vince Ascolese, the late Vic Paternostro.
But if that’s the way Toal ran his operation, then that’s what he wanted. He didn’t want some new man of the cloth to come in and upset his cattle cart. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Toal was gearing up for the 2017 season already with offseason workouts. He had his out-of-league games set.
Does that sound like a man who all of a sudden wanted to retire? Hell no.
So when Father Jim Heuser told Toal that the way he was operating, with travel costs and scholarships and a dictatorship over the sport of football at DBP, was done, Toal wouldn’t buy it.
So Heuser did the only thing he knew he could do _ can Toal and bring in a cheaper version in Teel, who backstabbed his old coach in order to get the job. Teel’s part of this fiasco cannot be ignored. He threw his own coach and mentor to the curb.
But the priest held that ridiculous press conference announcing Teel as the head coach, saying boldly that Toal retired.
Well, if Toal had retired on his terms, wanted to get away from the program on his own doing, then he would have been present at the coronation of his former player into the head coaching slot, the way that Tony Karcich was for Augie Hoffmann when Karcich stepped down two years ago. He was there for Hoffmann, supporting his former player.
At that sham press conference last week, Toal was nowhere to be found. Heuser, the proven liar that he is, said that Toal “was too emotional to attend.” Too emotional? Yeah, that’s because he got canned.
And Toal hasn’t spoken to anyone about it since.
The DBP officials like athletic director Brian McAleer and acting principal Bob Fazio are remaining tight lipped about the whole thing, knowing full well that if they open their mouths, they would be the next to go.
If Toal retired, then why the secrecy? Why the emotional parade of former players holding banners in front of his house? Why the silly Q&A with NJ.com where Heuser dances around the questions, then apparently laughs after nearly every answer?
There is no way that Toal retired. No freaking way. I’ve covered the man for the last 30 years. I know him well enough that this was not the way he wanted to go out. He’s too prideful, too egotistical, too bombastic to leave high school football in February. If he was going to quit, we all would have known in December. Not now. Even the timing of it sucks.
So to the man of the cloth in Ramsey, stop breaking one of the main Ten Commandments. “Thou shall not lie.” Look in the mirror, Father Heuser, and repeat that one over and over again, then come clean and say you fired Toal. Until then, you better stop giving out Holy Communion and offering penance, because you are a liar.
Don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of the Carmelo Anthony saga with looney bird James Dolan and the Knicks. And Phil Jackson is a complete buffoon with all of his trades and non-trades as the lackluster team president. It’s a silly soap opera coming from what was the premier franchise in New York in the early 1970s.
The best superstars were on the Knicks. Willis and Clyde and the Pearl and Bradley, DeBusschere and Lucas. They won two championships, the last one coming in 1973. They haven’t won one since.
It’s sickening to see what they’ve become. And they’re unwatchable.
March Madness is right around the corner and for the first time in recent memory, there’s no real clear cut favorite to cut down the nets in Arizona next month.
About 14 different teams can probably lay claim to winning it all. Some say 28-0 Gonzaga, the top-ranked team in the land, can actually do it. I say, “No way, Jose.” I think defending champ Villanova has a better chance than Gonzaga, but the Wildcats are missing that glue player like what Archidiocono was last year.
Some local writers have basically anointed Seton Hall as an NCAA Tournament team and at 16-10 and an under .500 record in the Big East, I don’t see it. I think the Pirates have to win at least three more games, which means winning a round in the Big East Tournament.
You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com, www.daily record.com and www.northjersey.com, although the last two are few and far between.