Franco considering Tyrone job; Guthoff out

The Tyrone Area High School football coaching position is officially open, and John Franco is not ruling out the possibility of applying for the job.

Franco, who won 190 games as Tyrone’s coach from 1994-2011, has spent the last two seasons as Altoona’s head coach.

“I might think about [applying for the Tyrone job],” Franco said Wednesday after Steve Guthoff resigned after two seasons as Tyrone’s head coach. “Steve had told me he couldn’t do the job anymore – it was taking up too much of his time. With some things going on in his life, he felt like he couldn’t put the time in. He had asked me if I would consider taking over for him, and I told him when the time comes I would think about it.”

Franco said he is not dissatisfied at Altoona – although he openly called for the school to leave the WPIAL last year before his team went 2-7 during the 2013 season. He had said the Lions had “no opportunity to win [the WPIAL title].”

“There are a lot of good people there [at Altoona].” Franco said, later adding, “I’m conducting our winter program and working on recruiting [Altoona non-football players]. I’ve started the weight program. We’re taking care of business as usual.”

But Franco said he hasn’t spoken to the Altoona players yet about his interest in the Tyrone job. He also said he hasn’t yet responded to Altoona athletic council chairman Dick Lockard’s question about his coaching plans for this season.

“I’m waiting to sit down and talk with [Guthoff] and see what his plans are,” Franco said. “I want to see where he’s going to go and what he wants to do. We are good friends, and he’s a former coach of mine. I’m not sure if I want to apply [for the Tyrone position]. I’m open to listening, but I’ve had no contact with the Tyrone School Board – no one there has talked to me. My contact has been through Steve, and that’s been ongoing for the last 12 years. We’ve had a pretty good relationship.”

Guthoff went 17-7 in his two seasons as Tyrone’s head coach after previously coaching at Philipsburg-Osceola, Bellefonte and Lewistown. He was on the staff at Tyrone when Franco’s team advanced to the Class AA state championship game in 2011.

Tyrone announced Guthoff’s resignation by posting a message on its website Wednesday.

“The Superintendent received an email dated Tuesday, January 21, 2014 from Head Football Coach, Steve Guthoff, indicating his intent to resign his position. The normal procedures for filling the vacancy will be followed with the position being advertised and applications accepted,” it read.

A message left for Guthoff on Wednesday was not returned.

“Steve was great to work with,” Tyrone athletic director Luke Rhoades said after coaching the Tyrone high school girls basketball team in Bellefonte on Wednesday night. “He was very supportive of the administration and the student body.”

The Tyrone school board’s next meetings are scheduled for Feb. 4 and Feb. 11. Rhoades said his focus right now is on the girls basketball team, but the football coaching search will be done in a “timely manner.”

Franco left Tyrone in 2012 to return as Altoona’s coach – he was the Altoona coach from 1986-93 and has been an AASD teacher since 1986 – when Tyrone didn’t meet his desire for a full-time position, preferably in administration. He also cited the 17-mile drive from Altoona to Tyrone as a factor in his decision and has since changed his residence from Tyrone to Altoona.

Franco has served two years of the four-year contract he signed that pays him roughly $12,000 to coach football and run the weight room. Franco was adamant that no behind-the-scenes deals have taken place with Tyrone, despite what is being written in social media, and he hasn’t put a timetable on his decision.

“There is nothing at this point,” he said. “People talk about different jobs all the time.”

The Tyrone job, though, was one Franco said he enjoyed.

“That was a great time for me,” he said. “I don’t have a negative word to say about my time at Tyrone. We had a great run there.”