After all, Eddie knew the American way, that coaches aren't hired to coach, they're hired to win. "Eddie understood his position," Woolum says. "That's the nature of the business, be it pro, college or high school. If you don't win...."
Yet no one appreciated the depths of his agony, even when he went out and bought a punching bag and began to flail away at it, bang, bang, rat-a-tat-tat, or the day when he went over to his parents' house, which was just down from where he and Retha and Toby, as Eddie Jr. is known, lived, and went into their bedroom, where his mother found him.
"Momma, I just wanted to lie down on your bed," he told her.
"Do you want to pray with me?" Inez asked.
"Yes ma'am," he said, and he got down beside her, on his knees, and when she prayed, Eddie cried, and he said, "Oh, Momma, the problems I've got. God's either going to take care of them or take me out of them."
His career record, 9-13.
It was Wednesday morning, April 22, when, without consulting anyone, Eddie burst into the office of school superintendent Ronald Jones. "I've got something that will make it easier for you," he said, and with that, he tossed his resignation onto the superintendent's desk.
Jones saw Eddie that afternoon, sat with him at the high school baseball game, and Eddie seemed perfectly composed. But when he went over to his mother's, Inez could sense his distress. "Momma," he told her, "they gave me the hatchet today. But I've told Toby all about it." The boy was six then. "He knows his father won't be a teacher here anymore."
The next morning, Thursday, Eddie cleaned his locker out and left school without teaching his classes. He went home and brooded, punching the bag, fretting, his mind unraveling—although not enough for anyone to see for sure. He went over to his parents' and Inez gave him some lunch, "but it was just like foaming in his mouth, so at last he just raked it out for the dogs."
After returning home, around quarter to five, he called up Cloud, who, by chance, had come home early from work. His conversation rambled. "Don't worry about it, Deke," Eddie reassured him at one point. "I've talked to the Lord, and I've got it all worked out."