The football rivalry between Marion County and South Pittsburg, both outside of Chattanooga, is a fierce one. But two weeks ago, the morning before the big game, Marion County discovered its fieldhouse covered in vulgar graffiti insulting the school, and including South Pittsburg's logo. But a police investigation revealed the culprit: Marion County assistant coach Michael Schmitt, who was just trying to fire up his players.
Officials arrived at the school on Nov. 1 to find spraypainted messages all over the fieldhouse, naming individual coaches and trashing the town. The two above, though already blurred out by the local TV station, appear to read "only pussies wear purple" and "fuck this house."
And this, perhaps the smoking gun:
(South Pittsburg had won the last seven meetings between the teams.)
Suspicion immediately and naturally fell on South Pittsburg students, though they were as shocked as anyone. South Pittsburg's principal had this to say:
"Our senior captains came to me and asked if they could go up there and help clean it up because they're as embarrassed as I am and they don't want people thinking we allow thugs like that in our school.
"We warned all of our kids at school yesterday to stay out of Jasper, and I hope they can identify who it was, because if it was any of our kids we will drop the full hammer on them."
The Marion County superintendent, too, promised that "once we find out who it was, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law." He noted that the damage totaled thousands of dollars, but he was confident that the vandal would be identified: there are surveillance cameras in and around the fieldhouse.
Police aren't saying if that's how they caught their man, but yesterday they announced that assistant coach Michael Schmitt had been arrested and charged with vandalism. Officers believe he did it to try and inspire his team. He's been suspended without pay pending his January court date.
South Pittsburg still won that game, 35-17. Eight and counting.