As expected, Doug Greene resigned as head coach at Rhea County on Thursday and immediately turned his attention to assuming the roles of defensive coordinator at Ooltewah High School.
Greene is returning to familiar territory – he held the same position with the Owls from 2006-09.
“This is a bittersweet day,” Greene said in a telephone interview . “It’s the most agonizing decision I’ve ever made in my professional career. But Ooltewah was as much a home as I’ve ever had. At the end of the day, this was a business decision and what was best for me and my future.”
On Wednesday, Chattanoogan.com posted a story on its website that Greene’s decision to leave Rhea County for the top defensive job at Ooltewah could come “within days, perhaps just hours.”
Greene made things official after meeting with Rhea County players Thursday morning.
In his second stint at Ooltewah, Greene will coach defensive backs and serve as new coach Mac Bryan’s defensive coordinator.
“Obviously,” said Owls athletic director Jim Jarvis, “we feel very good about Doug Greene returning to our staff. He did a good job the first time he was with us. He does nothing but strengthen our coaching staff.”
Bryan was named coach on March 2 at a press conference which attracted a capacity crowd of 275 people in Ooltewah High’s Little Theater.
Bryan succeeded Shannon Williams, who resigned on Feb. 6 to accept a position as an assistant coach at Walton High School in Florida. Bryan came to Ooltewah after serving as offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator at UT-Martin from 2010-2012.
When Williams decided to resign, he and Greene talked on the phone several times. When Williams told Greene he was turning in his paper work for his resignation at Ooltewah, Greene’s attention shifted to the Owls.
Greene and Ooltewah administrators have been discussing his possible return for a couple of weeks.
“The offer came last week and I pulled the trigger (Thursday),” Greene said. “There wasn’t another school I would have left Rhea County for except for a good college job.”
Once Greene arrives on campus next week he’ll see a lot of familiar faces still walking the halls of the north Hamilton County school.
“I’ve worked for Mark Bean and Jim Jarvis before and they both care about me,” Greene said. “I’m going to come in there in about a week, jump in with both feet and get to work.”
Jarvis said it was hard for Greene to leave Ooltewah after four years.
“He struggled with leaving,” Jarvis said. “I told him that if he wanted to spread his wings and try college coaching, Ken Sparks at Carson-Newman would be a good situation. Unfortunately for Doug, Carson-Newman got caught in a financial situation that forced them to cut some coaches and Doug just happened to be one of them.
“I’ll tell you this, though. We’re tickled to death to have Doug Greene back with us.”
In his first stint at Ooltewah, Greene helped the Owls post a 39-9 record with four consecutive playoff appearances, including reaching the semifinals in 2006 and 2008.
Greene played football and baseball at Cleveland High school, graduating in 1987. Benny Monroe, a former Owls football coach, was the coach at Cleveland when Greene played there.
Greene played football at Millsaps College from 1987-88 and transferred to Middle Tennessee State University to play baseball from 1990-91, helping the Blue Raiders win back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference titles.
A year later, Greene began his coaching career at Cheatham County High School in Ashland City.
After one year at Cheatham County, Greene joined the Coffee County staff as defensive coordinator, and stayed there from 1993-99.
Greene then moved to Riverdale in Murfreesboro, again as defensive coordinator. He then moved to Blackman, also in Murfreesboro, where he stayed from 2001-03.
In 2004, Greene coached linebackers and defensive backs at the University of West Alabama.
Two years later, Greene joined the coaching staff at Ooltewah.
In 2010, Greene coached defensive backs and special teams at Carson-Newman College.
He became Rhea County’s head coach in June 2011 after replacing Danny Adams, who had the job for exactly one working day before backing out. Adams was hired on June 17, a Friday, and worked the next Monday before resigning the next day.
In two seasons with the Golden Eagles, Greene had a 2-17 record, including a 2-10 mark in District 5-AAA.
“It’s tough to leave Rhea County, but I’m leaving the program in better shape than when I got here,” he said. “I had 31 players when I took over and we now have 80 on the varsity roster, and that doesn’t include freshmen coming in next year.”
Greene rejoins an Owls program that went 21-14 under Williams and reached the TSSAA playoffs in 2011 and 2012 and dating to 2000 is 106-48 with only two losing seasons – 4-6 in 2010 and 3-7 in 2003.
That’s a far cry from the program’s 14 losing seasons in 15 years prior to 2000. The only non-losing record in that stretch was a 5-5 in 1994.
“I’m really excited to be coming back,” Greene said. “I’ve got a lot of good friends down there. Coach Bryan likes wide open, full-speed football just like I do and I think we’re going to work well together.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)