Coach's Tirade Hits YouTube; Support Comes From Facebook

The sanctity of the locker room isn't what it once was. Just ask Shawn Abel, the Collierville (Tenn.) High School head football coach who resigned this week after his pregame profanity-laced tirade was posted on YouTube as an audio recording. "My initial thought was, 'I can't believe the sanctity of the locker room has been violated,'" Shawn Abel told The Commercial Appeal of Memphis. "But I have to be the grownup in this situation. I have to be smarter. It was a lapse in judgment and I didn't use good judgment."

That realization led Abel to resign. "[Collierville principal] Dr. [Tim] Setterlund did not [ask for my resignation]. That was my doing," said Abel, who is on paid administrative leave from his position as an Advanced Placement calculus teacher. "My superiors have been very fair in dealing with everything. I am trying to find out what's going on with my teaching job. I think by shifting gears and going to a strictly teaching position ... I can still do some good."

Abel, who was nearing the end of his second season as Collierville's head coach, yelled at his team before last Thursday's game against Wooddale. According to The Commercial Appeal, Dragons athletic director Roy Kirkland said assistant Mike O'Neill would coach the team in Friday's regular-season finale at home against Ridgeway.

In a statement released to media outlets Tuesday, Abel said, "My intent … was to motivate, and my methods were grossly out of line. I offer no excuses for what transpired, only apologies and regret."

But just as technology might have cost Abel his coaching position, it also may work to his advantage. Josh Stovall, a 2009 Collierville graduate who played defensive end for the Dragons when Abel was defensive coordinator, created a Facebook group supporting Abel. As of late Wednesday afternoon, the "Support Coach Shawn Abel" group had more than 1,900 members. By Thursday morning, that number had jumped to 2,630 and was climbing steadily.

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