Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 15, 2002.
New Red Bank High football coach Tim Daniels is inheriting a program in which the tradition is rich and the expectations are high following nearly 30 years under Tom Weathers. But, even though he has not yet won his first game, he has found the community quite supportive of him.
“So far, it has been wonderful,” he said this week. “The response to the program has been great. Everybody I’ve been involved with has been great. People have been coming up to us and saying, ‘What can I do for you.’ That’s been incredible. It has made you feel very welcome.”
He also said that the current Lion players have also been supportive and accepting of a new coach and new style. He said this has been in part due to the support of assistant coaches Jeff and Andy Chastain, Bumper Reese, Bobby Milam, Tom Adams, John Cherne (who is the new girls basketball coach), Kenny Cobble (who coached with Daniels at Loudon), and volunteer coach and former Lion quarterback Kevin Thomas.
Although the support has been great, Coach Daniels admitted that his own expectations for this year’s Lion team are not. “There’s a lot of inexperience,” he said. “We are very young and don’t have many returning. But the returnees we have are good kids.”
Among those expected to contribute, he said, are quarterback Kell Harvey, who started last year, as well as Matt Wildman, Abrelle Jackson, Jeremy Hill, Jarrod Pendergraft, Daniel Shadden, and Clarence Goins, among several others.
Coach Daniels comes to Red Bank from Loudon (Tenn.) High School, where he compiled a 70-25 record over eight years. The team reached the playoffs in all but one season. In 1995, the squad reached the quarterfinals before losing to a good Tyner team, while the 1996 squad reached the state semifinals before losing to White House.
In comparing Red Bank to Loudon, Coach Daniels said Red Bank is a bigger school. It also has better internal facilities as well as a bigger stadium, he said, and Red Bank has more players out for the team. Despite the larger numbers, he tries to set up practice in a way in which all the coaches get to work with all the players individually during the various drills. As a result, the coaches get to know all the players more personally, and vice versa.
Besides coaching football, Coach Daniels is also teaching sociology and weight lifting.
As for his coaching philosophy, Coach Daniels said he believes simply in hard work. “It is just working with the kids and making them realize they have a lot more to give than they think they have,” he said. “We want to make them overachievers.”
The 6-foot-8-inch Coach Daniels, who still has a slight Northern accent, knows about overcoming obstacles. But as a high school football standout, he did not experience much adversity. Reared in Massillon, Ohio, he was a standout lineman at tradition-rich Massillon Washington High, where the legendary Paul Brown had coached on his way to the NFL.
Arriving at UT in the fall of 1978, Coach Daniels was a member of the nation’s top recruiting class signed following Coach Johnny Majors’ first season at Tennessee.
He is actually the second Red Bank High head coach to have played at Tennessee. Marion Perkins, who coached the Lions in the late 1940s and early 1950s, also played for the Vols after prepping at Baylor School.
Coach Daniels has plenty of great memories of being at UT and playing for Coach Majors at a time when the Vols were slowly returning to respectability after Bill Battle was ousted for not winning enough games. “I’d like to go back and do it again,” he said. “And Coach Majors was great. I have a lot of respect for the man.”
Unfortunately, Coach Daniels was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the spring of 1980 and had to end his playing career. But he has been cancer free since the initial treatments, he said, and has not been too disappointed with the path his life has taken since college.
“I would like to have continued playing ball, but sometimes there’s another plan,” he said. “Coaching and teaching have been pretty good substitutes. Besides, there are not nearly as many knee injuries.”
But he initially had trouble getting on a career path when two years passed before he was able to land an assistant coaching position at a high school. He spent the time doing construction work and no doubt mentally laying the foundation for the kind of coach he wanted to be.
He eventually was able land a job at Doyle High in Knox County and later returned to Massillon before coming to Loudon.
He and his wife, Debby, who is self-employed in the mortgaging industry, and their 9-year-old daughter, Taylor Raye, who attends St. Jude School, are currently living in an apartment in the Mountain Creek area. But they eventually plan to find their own residence, and Coach Daniels hopes to find a comfortable home on the Red Bank sidelines for a long time as well.
“It was a great honor to have the opportunity to come here,” he said.