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Thomas' hiring makes you feel like life is good

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By Bobby Brockman

Just when you feel like life's not fair, something happens to make you realize it might not be that bad after all.

Jim Deaton is a good man. But, that didn't help the Campbellsville University football Tigers who finished the 2007 season with a 0-10 worksheet.

Just like winning became a habit during some of the Ron Finley era, finding ways to lose have been prevalent the last several games at CU.

Deaton resigned last month, feeling and hoping someone else could take control and bring the Tiger football program out of its doldrums.

When the job opened up, this sports columnist wrote that he thought a person with a considerable Kentucky background should take over.

I remember my boss coming back to the office after a game in the late 1980s telling me of this "huge" defensive coordinator at Allen County-Scottsville.

A year later, this community got to know Perry Thomas.

After four years as an assistant under Chuck Smith in which the duo helped salvage the Campbelsville High School program, Thomas was the head coach for the Eagles for eight seasons before spending the last eight campaigns at Paducah Tilghman.

"His credentials are lengthy and very impressive," remarked CU athletics director Rusty Hollingsworth.

Evidently the entire football selection search committee, consisting of Board of Trustee members, former Fighting Tiger football players, administrators and faculty, agreed with Hollingsworth.

"This is a very exciting day," CU president Michael Carter said. "The search committee "felt the electricity in the air when coach Thomas entered the room.

"We appreciate the great spirit he is known for. He commands respect. He's a role model for young men and young women. He knows football. He knows young men. He is a winner in life. Coach Thomas is a great fit."

Thomas will soon have the Tiger players and eventually the whole CU family believing they can beat anyone, anytime and at any place. He did that at Campbellsville High and Paducah Tilghman.

"I'm fired up about being the football coach at Campbellsville University," Thomas said on Friday. "Three things we will always stress: recruit and retain young men with high quality, earn degrees and win the national championship.

"Make no mistake about it, that's our goal," Thomas continued. "I don't know when that will happen, but winning starts today.

"Young people buy into high standards. They will accept those goals and we will fight to attain those goals."

Thomas said he did regret never being able to guide a team to a state title.

"I would have loved to win the state championship," Thomas admitted. "I thought we played well for it many times. But, we made major differences in the lives of young people."

Thomas said a lot of people had affected his life.

"My roles models have been my parents - they were the greatest - my brother and my grandparents.

"Coaching-wise, Jake Bell and his staff at Henry Clay, Chuck Smith, coach (Ron) Finley, Chuck Vaughn and Dave Fryrear.

"I've been blessed to work with some good people.

"There's nothing like a coach, other than momma. You can't replace momma."

Thomas expects to start recruiting immediately.

"We set the bar high today. It is an ongoing process, a building process.

"We will get there as soon as we have the players and the ones willing to sacrifice. But, it's not an easy process.

"There are a lot of CU alumni out there coaching and we need all their cats (players) here at CU.

"We'll hit Kentucky really hard, but we'll also go a 250-mile radius around Campbellsville University.

"I'm fired up about it. I'm ready to get it going.

"Tell your teammates to come ready to work and come ready to win.

"I'm proud to be a Tiger and all power to the Tigers."

Thomas' hard work has paid off with a collegiate head coaching job.

I wish things could/would have worked out better for Jim Deaton. He has worked most his life in football and had enormous success everywhere else.

But, and not at Deaton's expense, it's nice to see that good things can happen to good people like Perry Thomas.