EAST CHICAGO | The official language said Stacy Adams resigned as Valparaiso University's football coach Nov. 29, 2009.
"You know how that goes," Adams said on Wednesday. "If you don't resign, they're going to fire you."
The Crusaders went 15-40 in five years with Adams in charge. Valpo went 1-10 during the 2009 season.
"We had a lot of issues that caused that which were out of our control," Adams said. "I didn't want to leave. I didn't want people to think I was a 1-10 coach."
Nobody was happier when Adams was let go than a bunch of young men in East Chicago. With two sons attending Valparaiso High School, Adams did not want to leave the area.
He graduated from Lew Wallace in 1984.
"I had some other college opportunities," Adams said, "but my wife and I wanted to stay here."
E.C. was in rags after the 2009 season, where the three wins and multiple blowout losses was overshadowed by issues off the field. Something had to change.
That's when Adams' phone rang.
"Football was a joke before he got here," E.C. senior Demetrius Cousins said.
"Coach made the school take football serious," Central senior Jalen Alston said.
Under Adams' management, the Cardinals went 9-2 this season, E.C.'s best mark since 1991, earning him Times Coach of the Year honors.
In three years Adams has gone 21-11.
Valparaiso's Crusaders have gone 2-31 since Adams left.
Adams had to change the culture on Columbus Drive.
First, summer participation in workouts and training had to improve. Football could no longer be a three-month sport. This past summer 30 Cardinals showed up regularly. Not Duneland-like, but still a high for Adams' regime.
Second, in-season practice had to become mandatory. Before Adams arrived, there were practices where 10 Cards showed up.
"For the ones who stuck it out, it paid off for them," Adams said with a smile.
While many E.C. fans point to the Week 9 35-0 win over Griffith, the first ever for Central, as the biggest of the season, Adams points to Week 1 as the biggest win of the year.
After getting pounded by Hammond last year, the Cardinals returned the favor with a 48-22 victory.
"That was the big one," he said. "As coaches you want to win that first one. Then you feel like you can build off of that."
E.C. trailed Lake Central 14-7 at halftime in Week 2 before the mega-school thing took over. Then, the Cardinals won eight in a row before a tough loss to Morton in the sectional semifinal.
At both the Griffith and Morton games, East Chicago's bleachers were filled with rabid fans. It was almost like a basketball game.
"We felt it with our students in the hallways," senior Michael Henney said. "They were getting excited about football as the season went on. It was awesome. Exciting.
"Football is important here now."
Yes, the program has talent. But now the Cardinals have a coach who can teach them how to fly.
"The bar has been raised," Adams said. "We have to work hard and keep it going."