Mike Buck said he wanted his latest coaching job, with the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team, to be his last. Shortly before he was hired to take over the team earlier this summer, Buck spoke about coaching in Greenport until his retirement.
“I wanted to be there forever,” he said.
Now Buck is gone, and Greenport’s athletic director may soon be following him.
With preseason training camp having barely started and the Porters not even having snapped a football in a competitive game, Buck has resigned as the team’s head coach. After what Buck said was only about five or six weeks on the job, he resigned earlier this week.
Buck, 48, told The Suffolk Times on Friday that he resigned for the first time in his career from the coaching post after a physical education teaching job he had applied for in Greenport went to someone else.
“It’s just really disappointing,” Buck said in a phone interview. “It was a tough decision to leave, but I have to look for my future, too.”
Greenport’s athletic director, Jim Caliendo, said he has recommended that the team’s defensive coordinator, Jack Martilotta, be hired as the head coach. Martilotta had served as the Porters’ head coach for five years before stepping aside this year to become the defensive coordinator. That way, he said, he could spend more time with his family while still staying involved in the program.
Caliendo said he doesn’t know when the school board will make an official decision on the head coaching position.
Meanwhile, Caliendo himself has submitted a letter of resignation that the school board has not yet acted on, according to the Greenport school superintendent, David Gamberg. When asked about Caliendo’s status, Gamberg said: “Something is happening. Nothing has been accepted by the board of education.”
Caliendo’s resignation letter may be considered at the school board’s Sept. 15 meeting.
Caliendo, 59, who was reached by phone on Saturday morning, said his intention is to stay at the school through the fall season. “I basically said I’m here for the fall and we’ll look at it again at the end of the season,” he said.
Caliendo is in his third year on the job.
It was Caliendo who had nominated Buck to take over the Porters. Around that time, in a letter to parents of players, Caliendo took note of Buck’s “impressive” résumé.
Asked if he believed there was any connection between Buck’s departure and Caliendo’s resignation letter, Gamberg said, “I don’t see a linkage with any of these issues, personally.”
Caliendo had no comment when asked for why he intends to step away, other than to say he may move to California. He did acknowledge that he was “very disappointed” that Buck didn’t get the teaching job. “It’s a part of it, I’m not going to lie,” said Caliendo. He added, “I’ve had a stomach ache for two weeks over this.”
Buck said he was encouraged when a physical education teacher position became available in Greenport, and saw it as an opportunity to work in the school building while also coaching the Porters. He said that fell through, however, when he received an email, followed up by a phone call, from the school principal “saying thanks but no thanks, basically.”
“I feel bad. I feel awful, but I still have to pay my bills,” Buck said. Emphasizing that he is disappointed, not angry, he added: “It’s a shame. It’s a real shame. I think it would have been a real home run all the way around, I really do, because I get involved.”
Buck said he did not have an opportunity to talk to his players about his decision.
A former NFL quarterback who played for the New Orleans Saints, the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins, Buck had coached the Tallahassee Thunder and the Norfolk Nighthawks in the Arena Football League.
As a high school coach, he spent his first and only season at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School last year, guiding the team into the playoffs. The Monarchs finished with a 4-5 record. Buck said he left McGann-Mercy because he lost his teaching job at the private Riverhead school.
The Porters, who started preseason practice on Aug. 17, will open their season on Sept. 4 with a home game against Wyandanch.
Asked if Buck’s abrupt resignation puts the team in a bind, Gamberg said, “The program has a number of coaches and we are looking at maintaining the integrity of the program with the people that we have.” He added: “I think they’ll be O.K. … Certainly, the existing coaches who remain a part of the program and the kids are dedicated.”
Caliendo said that when he asked Martilotta about returning as head coach, Martilotta “didn’t even blink an eye. Jack being Jack, he said, ‘Don’t worry coach, I got it.’ ”
Caliendo said the team is fortunate to have Martilotta available. “I’ve known a lot of football coaches over the years who have big egos,” Caliendo said. “Jack is all about the kids.”
Martilotta could not immediately be reached for comment.
The other members of the coaching staff are John Tramontana, Timothy McArdle and Greg Tulley. Caliendo said another assistant coach needs to be hired to fill the vacancy left by Buck’s departure.
The Porters have experienced their share of turbulence over the past year or so. Last season they didn’t play the final two games of their season because they ran out of enough healthy players, and now they lost their head coach a couple of weeks before their season kicks off.
What is next for Buck?
He said he hopes to be appointed to the Walt Whitman High School coaching staff and gain a place at that school as a permanent substitute. For now, he said, “I’m just watching practice and hoping for the opportunity.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Jim Caliendo is in his second year as Greenport’s athletic director. This is his third year.
Photo Caption: Mike Buck coached the McGann-Mercy football team last year. He resigned as the Porters’ coach just as the season started this summer. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)