|Jeff Harig returns as Loudon football coach
knoxnews.com-Many job interviews require time to get to know one another, but that wasn't necessary when Jeff Harig and Loudon High School athletic director Ronnie Roberts sat down to discuss the Redskins’ football coaching vacancy.
The two were plenty familiar with each other from the time Harig spent coaching at Loudon from 1994-2014, and ultimately that led to Harig being named the new football coach Tuesday.
“It’s kind of like a homecoming,” Harig said. “For 21 years, I lived in that Loudon community. To a certain extent, some of those people raised me and became family even though it was eight hours from where I grew up. To be back is like coming home, and I’m excited to get started.”
Harig returns to Loudon after resigning from the same position at West in December following two seasons in which he went a combined 13-9. He led the Rebels to a 9-3 record and a state quarterfinal appearance in 2015, but could not replicate that success last year, starting the year 4-1 before losing the final five games of the season to miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Harig told the News Sentinel back in December that he opted to resign because he felt there were relationships at West that were “strained and in some cases broken.”
Those problems are not likely to follow him at Loudon, where he began as an assistant in 1994 under then-head coach Tim Daniels. He then became the head coach in 2002, posting a 79-51 record while making three state quarterfinal appearances and a semifinal appearance in 2014 — the program’s first since 1997 — over his 13-year tenure.
“Jeff understands the community and the school,” Roberts said. “Obviously, I think he’s a good football coach. The fact that we worked together for so many years, I have all the confidence in the world that Jeff will pick up where he left off. Although Jeff was gone for a couple of years, I think that he never left here in his mind and his heart. It’s good to have him back.”
Harig, who was one of four candidates to interview for the job, will be asked to build the program back up after Joe Campbell, whose contract was not renewed after the 2016 season, went 3-18 and 0-10 in Region 2-3A in his two seasons as coach.
“There is a standard that is the new standard,” Harig said. “It’s up to the players to meet the standard and start taking it as their own. On a daily basis, they have to strive each day to be their best. We’re going to carry that with us on and off the field, and if they give me their best, we’ll win a few more than we’ll lose.
“That’s where the fun is in taking on a new challenge like this — watching the kids buy into that.”