(WIAT) — Literature is filled with big dreams, and big heroes fulfilling them.
That subject is Troy Elliott’s other passion. Elliot is a teacher at Sardis High School by day, Defensive Coordinator at the middle school by night.
“You know, do I want to be like every other stereotypical coach that taught history and everything?” Elliot asked.
Once you get past the desks, there’s nothing stereotypical about Elliott’s classroom.
“His camaraderie with the students, his way to bring difficult topics down to something they can understand but still keep the rigor up in the classroom is exceptional,” said Wendy Gibbs, principal at Sardis High School.
“I don’t have it in me to be super-strict,” Elliot said. “I have to kind of handle it my way.”
Which sounds an awful lot like another leader of young minds: Les Miles, former head coach of the LSU Tigers. When Miles lost his job at LSU, Elliott saw the chance to write his next chapter.
“Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, these are people that made the jump from high school to college and had a good bit of success,” Elliot said. “I’ve always kind of maintained that eventually a middle school coach needs to get his opportunity.”
So the teacher practiced what he preaches, and sat down to write.
His audience: LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva. Elliott wrote a letter touting his credentials to take over the tigers.
“My connections to Louisiana — I’ve never lived in Louisiana. I’ve made a couple of trips to New Orleans,” Elliot said. “I eat at Popeye’s a lot. I use Tony Chachere’s a lot, so I just feel like I have a connection to the people of Louisiana.”
Not everyone trusted in the Elliot’s vision from the outset, unfortunately.
“We didn’t think it was a joke at first,” one of Elliot’s players said. “I thought it was legit until like two days later.”
Not legit, but definitely viral. The defensive guru from a city that could fit every resident in Tiger Stadium — nearly 60 times over — was the internet’s knight in Sardis white.
The only problem: Ed Orgeron has a head start on him as the interim coach.
“He has that success with four and five star athletes,” Elliot said. “If he can teach an offensive lineman to pull when he doesn’t have any hair under his arms yet, I think that would be a bigger accomplishment. So — he’s good, but I don’t know if we’re quite comparable.”
Elliott is still holding out that tall Tiger tales do happen, or at least that Sardis will match what he could have made at LSU.
“I think the minimums like four million,” Elliot said.
“No, he’s not worth the four million dollars,” Gibbs said.
“I do think, after this has happened, at minimum I should at least be the highest paid middle school defensive coordinator in Etowah County,” Elliot said.
Some hopes are forever dashed by the sword of Elliott’s humor
“You know how you dream and you think the dream is real?” said Carson Glass, a Sardis High JV football player. “Well, I was dreaming that I was playing on the defensive line for LSU. Then I woke up, and I cried.”
But the best stories are the ones that take an unexpected turn.
“The Cubs win the world series, Donald Trump’s running for president, Prince died,” Elliot said. “I mean, there’s a lot of weird stuff that’s happened in 2016. I don’t think me getting an SEC job is the most outrageous thing people are going to hear this year. It’d actually be a return to normalcy!”