The Missouri Western athletics department fired head football coach Jerry Partridge, Thursday, Nov. 17. The athletics department administrators believed it was best for the football program to go in a different direction.
Kurt McGuffin, director of athletics, points to the “decreasing in wins” as a main factor in Partridge’s termination, saying “we just felt like it was time for a fresh start.”
The news comes just a week after a 44-3 loss to Northwest Missouri State in their season finale. The Griffons finished the season with a 4-7 record — their worst since 1995.
Partridge is a graduate of Missouri Western, played football at the university and was hired to take over the football program in 1997. Before this season, the program had gone 11-straight seasons with a winning record. However, since winning the MIAA conference title in 2012, the Griffons have been on a steady decline in the wins column.
“We see the record over the last few years and we wondered why it was happening,” quarterback Skylar Windmiller said. “We didn’t expect a change to be made, but we wondered when or if a change would be made.”
Partridge had a record of 149-83 and went 117-68 in the MIAA in his 20 seasons as head coach.
“The first thing I thought about was 149 and wishing we could have gotten him 150,” running back Josh Caldwell said. “I feel bad for Coach P; I never wish losing a job to anyone.”
Western has done major overhauls to their athletic facilities, spending over $30 million. With that kind of money being spent on their facilities, the pressure to win only increased for Partridge.
“The decisions are difficult and aren’t taken lightly and with our investments in the program and the facilities, the expectations are kinda right with those,” McGuffin said. “And that’s college athletics– right, wrong or indifferent.”
The decision to let go of the longtime head coach was made with input from numerous administrators, including President Robert Vartabedian.
“It was not taken lightly and it was very difficult and we wish him the best and appreciate his service to this university,” Vartabedian said.
The search for a new head football coach is already underway. There is no timetable on when Western will announce candidates.
“There isn’t an AD in the country that won’t tell you that they have a list, but you put it away and forget about it,” McGuffin said. “After a while of being here, you don’t think about that and you hope that it never happens. There is a lot of pressure to find the right person, pressure to graduate kids, there’s pressure to win and pressure to give someone the best experience that you possibly can.”
The team itself will have to adjust to a new coach and a new leader of the football team, but players say the transition won’t be a difficult one.
“Honestly, I don’t think that will be a problem and not that guys are excited that he is leaving, but no matter what it is in life but when you get something new and something fresh, it’ll spark something,” Windmiller said.