Shane State just moved up to Division I last winter and are now looking for someone to give “the keys to the kingdom.” Whoever that’ll be will get complete control… over everything.
And to them, that someone is Coach Eric Taylor.
Buddy, who is always on top of anything related to his football team, is worried and tells Principal Levi that “a crate of oranges will be the end of the East Dillon football program.” A crate of oranges from Florida had just been delivered to school for Coach and Buddy says this is a fight to keep Coach.
Rumors of Coach leaving have spread across town and people are putting up signs of support for him all wanting him to stay in Dillon. But Coach admits, “Overall, a pretty solid opportunity.”
Buddy sticks to Principal Levi. He wants to use the upcoming athletic banquet as a tribute to Coach in an effort to make him see how loved he is in Dillon. “We have to make a case to make Coach stay here.”
Vince and Pops are playing basketball when Pops gets a call from Oklahoma Tech. Good news? Oops. Nope. Pops is very upset. OK Tech had offered the spot to the other kid and Pops hurls his phone at the fence.
Later, Pops says he’ll call TMU. “Generate heat” by playing them against Mississippi Central. Vince wants to step back. He wants to focus on getting his spot on the team back.
Billy is talking to their lawyer who says they will need character witnesses to speak on Tim’s behalf at the parole hearing.
Buddy corners Coach and not so subtly asks about the offer. Billy comes in wanting to ask Coach if he could come speak on Tim’s behalf. Of course he will… and Buddy too. Of course he’ll come help out “one of the best fullbacks ever in Texas.”
Outside, the players and Jess are talking about the rumors and as Coach heads to his car, Tinker asks him bluntly if he’s going to Florida. “I’m going home,” Coach says and doesn’t give them a straight answer.
Mrs. Coach at home is looking at the materials of the offer. It includes a very pretty house. And a pool! Gracie belle likes the pool. Coach says it is a three contract with a two year option. Maybe this is a good idea after all?
Luke and Becky are on the field, playing catch. He tackles her on the field and the two are being cute. But Luke talks about how he’ll probably not be a college football star. “Nobody wants me,” he says. “I want you,” Becky answers.
Luke goes to Counselor Mrs. Coach and asks her about plans for the future. Counselor Mrs. Coach suggests he look at his other interests then that’ll help him decide where to apply. He had also expected football would get him to school.
Vince goes to talk to Coach. “I know why you benched me,” he says, “I want back.”
It won’t be that easy though. “You’re going to work” to get your spot back, Coach says.
“The team doesn’t play well to get you offers.” (Hear hear!)
Later, Pops asks Vince to meet scouts from Mississippi Central, but he doesn’t like it. He thought they were stepping back. Pops insists, but Vince doesn’t want trouble with Coach and he walks out of the diner.
Principal Levi submitted Counselor Mrs. Coach for a conference in Lubbok at a panel for getting kids into college. Another teacher or education official, Dena Weldon, says hi to Tami as they had met before at West Dillon. At the panel , they talk about standardized testing being very important, but Counselor Mrs. Coach says they are not the answer and that students have very different needs. Teachers must address every one of these needs for the students to succeed and go to college.
At Tim’s parole hearing, he tells Billy he doesn’t want him to speak. “He’s done enough damage.”
Billy speaks anyway, very nervous. He stumbles through his flash cars and prepared speech. Coach is next and says how much of a good young man Tim is. He has a good character. Buddy stands up and Tim cringes. Buddy says Tim has “more heart than almost anyone I know.” He offers a full time job to Tim if he gets out. “Let Tim Tiggins come home!”
Coach and Tim talk for a little afterwards. Tim asks if Coach got his letters, which he did, then Coach apologizes for not visiting more. “I’m sorry I let you down,” he says. They shake hands before the guards take him back behind bars.
Pops insists to Vince that they must continue their illegal ways of recruitment, but Vince doesn’t want. Vince’s mother comes to the rescue and tells Pops to stop smothering their son. “He needs a father, not an agent.” He storms off into the room.
It’s the athletic banquet. Principal Levi quickly introduces the basketball, volleyball, and cross country teams but the main event is the football team and Coach Eric Taylor.
Buddy comes over to give little Gracie belle a little Lions t-shirt. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” he recites. Gracie has no idea what he’s talking about.
He then heads to the stage to begin the lovefest. Several players go up to say their peace. Luke thanks Coach for the greatest days of his life. Tinker loves Coach for changing his life. Mr. Hastings Ruckle admits Coach was right when he first told him that he didn’t know he liked football yet. And last, Vince… “Coach is the best.” That’s all.
Back home, Coach says it was a little too obvious what they were doing, but Mrs. Coach says it was heartfelt. It’s a hell of an offer, Coach says. “I’d own that program,” excellent funding, recruitment dollars… oranges. They love oranges. Especially freshly squeezed orange juice by the pool.
“I want to bring these kids to state,” they deserve it, Coach says. “But you know what,” Mrs. Coach replies, “after that, think about the offer. You deserve that.”
Becky visits Luke at his home. She happily reports that his mom said hi to her when she arrived. They sit out, looking over the Cafferty land. I used to hate it here, Luke says. That he had always thought football would take him out of Dillon. But now, he might try to imagine staying.
“You ever imagine living on a farm?”
Becky goes home and she is shocked to see… TIM RIGGINS!
Tim’s home and Billy is going crazy with happiness even though he’s supposed to be at school right now heading on a bus.
“Welcome home,” Becky says.”
As Coach gets ready to head to school to get on the bus for their last game of regular season, Vince comes to his door. He asks Coach not to leave. That he was one of the best things that ever happened to him. He doesn’t know where he’d be without Coach, jail… maybe a ditch. “If you come back, I’m going to be focused. No mistakes, no drama. Just don’t go.”
“Get in the damn car,” Coach says and he tells Vince that he’s starting tonight’s game.
“Your problem is you ask too many damn questions.”
At school, the community is there in full support of the team, but also in support of Coach, with signs telling him not to go. A reporter is there and asks Coach about the college offers. He mentions the community, their character, how this is home. There’s been a lot of speculation, “but I plan on coming home to Dillon and that’s where I plan to say… at home in Dillon.”
The crowd goes wild.
“You’re full of surprises aren’t you?” Mrs. Coach says.
A very interesting episode driven by the Will he? Or won’t he?
While Coach’s pronouncement at the end of the episode isn’t as set in stone as the people of Dillon would like to believe, it does open up a very interesting possibility that maybe the Taylors do leave Dillon, but not the way or reason we expect.
We have three episodes left and it seems as though maybe they could have touched on Luke and Becky’s story a little more than they have this season. There is so much potential for good story there after last season’s big fuse but it seems we’ll just have to settle on them being cute and destined. Now throw Tim back into the mix, I’m not really sure anymore.
Not the same can be said for Jess and Vince though, whose relationship has developed (and degraded) nicely and realistically.