Brian Barnes has been down this road before. Teaching physical education at Tesoro High pays the bills but coaching the football team gets his name in the newspaper.
When the Capistrano Unified School District released its who have been earmarked to get their pink slips, Barnes' name was on it.
It's a yearly dance that Barnes does. He gets notified that he may not have a job the following school year, and then it comes through at just about the 11th hour.
Is this the year that there's no last-minute reprieve? There's no telling right now, but with the district facing millions in budget cuts, all scenarios are in play.
"I love my job, but when it comes to the crossroad of not having a job, I'll worry about it then," said Barnes, who was hired in 2007 and is on the list. "I'm not going to worry now because then it will affect everything I do. I'm still planning on being here for spring and summer, and two-a-days. The last couple of years I haven't gotten hired until right before school begain. I imagine it will be the same this year.
"Unless something drastic changes, this is where I plan on being. I'm not going to worry about it until I do lose my job."
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Teaching and coaching are two different entities. For coaching, Barnes makes only a few thousand dollars from a stipend, but also makes a huge impact in a prominent position.
"If I lost the teaching job—I've got to put food on the table," he said. However, he said he's not in panic mode and said he wouldn't be looking for a new job in the meantime to hedge his bets.
"Part of the problem is there are no jobs to be had," Barnes said. "I'm still single and young enough where if I didn't have a job I could survive. I could work at McDonald's. I could get a job outside of teaching. I feel bad for the people with a family, with kids and a mortgage."
Barnes hasn't been just any coach at Tesoro since taking over the football program in 2007. It moved into the highest division of competition in the Southern Section, the Pac-5, and reached the finals in 2008 and the semifinals in 2011 after ending Servite's two-year playoff dominance.
"He brings enthusiasm, character, he's an all around good guy," said Gil Ramirez, the athletic director at Tesoro. "He's a role model for our young men."
Seventeen starters and a number of other players who had extensive playing time are expected to be on next season's team. The Titans will probably open the 2012 season as one of the most highly regarded teams in Orange County if not the state.
"Tesoro is a great program, a great school," Barnes said of next year's outlook. "I expect to win here."
The program is 41-19 since Barnes took over a program that had been 1-9 the year before. The Titans won the South Coast League title in 2007 and 2008, breaking a long streak of successive league titles by Mission Viejo.
He is the son of John Barnes, the coach at Los Alamitos who is Orange County's winningest coach and is likely to win his 300th game next season.