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2 posts from March 3, 2014

March 03, 2014

Hiring Ice Harris a smart move for Canes, but making him an assistant coach would be even smarter

High school football coaches across South Florida were happy to hear Monday's news that Miami Booker T. Washington's Tim "Ice" Harris had been hired as assistant director of football operations at the University of Miami.

"Great news for Coach Ice and for The U," former Hurricane and Miami Central coach Roland Smith said. "It means a great deal for him to be back at UM. Everyone in the community knows him. He knows the ins and outs of Liberty City, Overtown and many other places here in Dade. He's going to be an asset."

"I think it’s definitely a good thing for both," said Miami Westminster Christian coach Sedrick Irvin, who spent two years at Alabama and another at Memphis as an assistant and knows the value of having a familiar, local face on a college staff.

"Besides, what else is there for him to accomplish at this level now?" Irvin continued. "State champs three times. National champs. It's always good to see the home school give a local coach who has done well a shot at the next level."

Harris, a three-time state championship winning coach and perennial winner with a 96-10 career record as a head coach, no doubt has earned the respect of coaches locally. As the direct liaison for high school coaches for UM -- among his new duties -- that will come in handy. So will the experience he already has from coordinating community service events the first time he was at UM under Randy Shannon from 2008 to 2010.

But if you're thinking Harris' hiring is going to "lock down South Florida recruiting" you're overestimating it some. Since he's not an assistant coach, Harris cannot recruit like one for the Hurricanes. 

According to UM here is what Harris can't do: He can't coach. He can't recruit. And he can't make phone calls to recruits.

What can he do? He can reach recruits through social media beginning Sept. 1 of their junior year and he can be involved in official on campus visits and eat meals during off campus official vists.

That's hardly the freedom assistants coaches have.

Other college programs have swooped into South Florida over the last two years and hired some of the top local coaches such as Miami Central's Telly Lockette (USF), Miramar's Damon Cogdell (West Virginia), University School's Roger Harriott (FAU) and Hialeah American's Corey Bell (FAU). By making them assistant coaches, they're allowed to go into homes, schools and recruit to the fullest extent. 

Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg was at Miami Edison and Norland when Harris had his first go-around with the Canes.

"If it's pretty much the same job as last time he can make phone calls to the coaches," Heidelburg said. "It’s not on the recruiting tip, but it’s moreso ‘Hey Coach Golden told me this kid was offered. I want to get a correct address and phone number. The coach may start a conversation with him like ‘So how is it over there?’ He can always plug in players that way and talk to them about that.

"They can use that help recruiting. But do I think FAU made a better move with Bell and Harriott? Yes. That’s where the advantage is going to be with Bell, Harriott and Lockette. They’ll coach the kids they are recruiting as opposed to Ice just selling the program.

"Bell, Harriott and Lockette can actually sell the kids, 'Hey we're from Miami and we're recruiting you to these positions.' I don’t know if a liaison position even allows for Ice to ride out with the coach who is recruiting the player."

Irvin, who again has been a part of a college staff at Alabama and Memphis, said where he thinks Harris can make an impact most is with parents.

"Me being realistic I don’t think he’ll have so much of an impact with players, but he can have an impact depending on how they use him and how he comes off to the parents," Irvin said.

Harris has told me in the past if he returned to the college ranks he wanted to be in a position where he could coach and not be a behind-the-scenes guy. There's always the possibility Golden is thinking two steps ahead here and wants to have Harris on staff with the idea of eventually making him an assistant. 

Harris also wants to finish college and get his degree at UM. Part of the reason he left Booker T. was to take advantage of this situation and finish school once and for all. He cannot become an assistant coach until he gets his degree.

"I don't know the details of the job for Ice, but maybe it will be used as a stepping stone to get acclimated to the college game and then maybe next year he’s a position coach," Heidelburg said. "I can definitelly see it like that."

Ice Harris heading back to UM

Tim "Ice" Harris, who won three state championships at Miami Booker T. Washington including a national title this past season, has accepted a position on the University of Miami football staff as Assistant Director of Football Operations.

Harris, 48, will be the primary liaison to high school coaches at UM under Al Golden. He will also assist in coordinating community service events for current student-athletes.

Harris worked under former UM coach Randy Shannon from 2008 to 2010 as a special assistant to the head coach. He coordinated the football team’s community relations projects and also assisted in other day-to-day operations of the football program.

Harris’ eldest son Tim Jr., Booker T.’s offensive coordinator, is expected to be named coach for the Tornadoes two sources told The Miami Herald. Harris Jr., 28, ran track at UM where he was an All-American. Harris' son, Treon, a star quarterback on the program’s back-to-back state championship teams, signed with the University of Florida last month.

Together the Harris family -- with deep roots to Miami's innercity -- led Booker T. to 26 consecutive victories and back-to-back state titles over the last two seasons. The Tornadoes finished the year ranked No. 1 in all seven national high school football polls.

In his first stint at Booker T. from 2003 to 2007, Harris Sr. went 57-7 and guided the Tornadoes to a state championship in 2007 en route to being named the USA Today National Coach of the Year.

He then followed his son Brandon Harris, a standout cornerback now with the Houston Texans, to UM the following fall. After Shannon was fired, Harris returned to Booker T. as head coach in 2011 and guided the Tornadoes to a state finals appearance immediately. Booker T. went 39-3 over the last three seasons combined including 14-0 this past season.

“God put me on this earth to help develop young people from a high school perspective,” Harris Sr. said after guiding Booker T. to the state championship last December and joining Nick Kotys (4), Billy Rolle (3) and Walt Frazier as the only other coaches in Miami-Dade County history to win at least three state titles.

“I know right now from watching our development the last three years you never know what might happen, if an offer may come. But right now I’m grounded to what we’re doing and Booker T. Washington High School.”

Eddie Arza, a longtime friend and assistant at Booker T. prior to 2013, said Ice was torn about leaving Booker T. but felt better knowing he was leaving the program in the hands of his son and his assistants. Harris Sr. also intends to finish his college degree at UM. 

"If there’s something he would want to come out in the article is that it was a gut-wrenching decision for him because he’s so tied up to that community and to those kids," Arza said. "The phrase saving lives came out in our conversations hundreds of times over the weekend. Ice was not only about winning games at Booker T., but saving lives. I told him listen 'You’ve taught everybody well and we’ll continue to save lives while your over there. Now with Ice being at UM he can save some lives not only in Overtown, but Liberty City, Goulds and other areas throughout the county.

"It’s important for people to know he cares so much about his community. What made the decision easier for him was we spent the weekend in Orlando in the Nike Clinic. We had our 15 coaches in a room and we sat and spoke and laughed about all the things we wanted to accomplish. We get along so great. Seeing us laugh and joke around and knowing how much football we know because of him, it made his decision easier."

Harris began his coaching career at Miami High where he coached wide receivers and served as the offensive coordinator from 1986 to 1996. There, he coached UM offensive coordinator James Coley. Harris also served as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Northwestern High School from 1997-98 and 2001-02. He was the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Miami Central High School from 1999-2000.

A native of Overtown, Harris played three years as a defensive back at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.

UM signed two of its top recruits in February from Booker T. -- five-star All-American defensive end Chad Thomas and four-star defensive end Demetrius Jackson. UM also has Booker T. standout running back Mark Walton (currently Class of 2016) committed as a recruit.

The Tornadoes are once again expected to be among the nation's elite teams in 2015.