E.A. Sports Today

Etheredge the pick

Oxford approves hiring TR Miller coach Keith Etheredge to be its next head football coach

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD —Keith Etheredge told the room he probably was going to get emotional talking about taking the Oxford head coaching job, and he did.

Etheredge briefly choked back the emotion as he addressed the Oxford school board and assembled guests after ending several days of speculation by being named the Jackets head coach.

It was more him talking about the relationship — present and future — that got him choked up.

“When I start talking about kids I usually get very emotional,” Etheredge said. “Talking about my own kids, talking about the kids that I coach, I’m sort of passionate about that. 

“I truly believe about growing the relationship first. The coaching comes, but the relationship has to be first. If you have a relationship with a kid they’ll run through a brick wall for you. Without the relationship, it’s hard to coach them.”

He talked about the tradition of Oxford’s program, something with which he’s intimately familiar. He went against the Jackets as Pell City’s head coach, was put out of the playoffs by a state champion Oxford team his sophomore player and he did his student teaching there when current schools superintendent was principal there.

He called it “the best job in the state of Alabama” and if it weren’t Oxford calling he wouldn’t be leaving his current job at T.R. Miller. He was 6-5 in his first season at T.R. Miller this past season.
“This has been a dominant program since I was in school and before,” he said. “It’s one of those places you dream about. If you’re a high school coach you dream about coaching at Oxford High School. This is just a dream come true for me and I’m going to make the most out of it.”
Goodwin told him it was “the best employment decision you’ve made in your life.”

Etheredge said the decision to recommend him to the board was made Thursday morning and he had to bite his lip through a spate of reports that said he had resigned, reports he said were untrue, throughout the day. Still, the Brewton City Schools system posted his job that afternoon.

He will have a base salary at Oxford of $100,000 with future considerations for performance and service, Goodwin said.

Etheredge, 45, replaces Ryan Herring, who left to take the coaching job at Pierce County (Ga.). Etheredge and Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa head coach Sam Adams were the two finalists.
Etheredge is 125-49 in 13 years as a head coach (135-39 on the field). He’s made the playoffs every year and won four state championships (2008, 2010, 2014, 2015) and was runner-up once in 10 years at alma mater Leeds. He also coached two seasons at Pell City, going 6-5 both years.
“I can’t promise a lot of things,” Etheredge said, “but what I can promise is I’m going to love the kids that I coach, I’m going to love the kids who walk the halls of Oxford, and I’m going to worker than anybody you’ve ever seen, and that’s a promise.
“I’m so excited to be here … We’re going to grow roots in Oxford and this is where I’m going to raise my kids and see out my days.”
Oxford also interviewed Yellow Jackets assistants Will Wagnon and Chad Cochran, former Oxford and Alabama player Darius Gilbert, Foley head coach Tad Niblett and Montevallo head coach Brandon Wilcox. Pinson Valley head coach Patrick Nix also toured the campus.
Oxford principal Heath Harmon called Etheredge a “great fit for our school and our community.”
“We just felt Keith’s the right guy,” Goodwin said. “We had a lot of fantastic candidates. Everyone who applied had characteristics that would have enhanced our program, but in the end we felt Coach Etheredge was the choice for our program at this time.”

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