Orange Coast College football coach Mike Taylor has had enough trouble navigating the annual mine field known as his schedule. In recent years, however, he has been increasingly plagued by the pitfalls, mostly academics, that have posed too great an opposition for his would-be returning players.
The recent off-season proved perilous, indeed, as Taylor lost 2011 All-American running back Domenic Betts, outside linebacker Aaron Jones, who led the team in tackles as a freshman, and a handful of other 2011 contributors to obstacles having nothing to do with an on-field opponent.
"It's unfortunate, but that's what happens at this level," said Taylor, who in his previous 13 seasons has posted just two winning records, the last coming in 2006.
Betts set a school single-season record and led the state with 1,772 rushing yards, while also producing 21 of the Pirates' 33 touchdowns in 2011. But even with Betts, whose speed and determination helped him flourish behind a veteran offensive line and helped OCC lead the state in rushing offense and finish No. 1 in the 37-school Southern California Football Assn. with 27 rushing TDs, OCC finished a forgettable 4-6, 2-3 in the East Conference.