E.A. Sports Today

Oxford focuses on future

Yellow Jackets set sights on next head coach, continuity as Etheredge takes Auburn job

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Now that Oxford football coach Keith Etheredge is on to the plains at Auburn High School, the Yellow Jackets’ focus is on the future.

Oxford AD Larry Davidson confirmed Friday that Etheredge, the Jackets’ coach the last two years, has taken the head coaching job at 7A Auburn High School.

Oxford’s immediate focus is on the future of the program, which includes setting a timetable for the new hire as well as maintaining continuity for the players still in the program.

Davidson said there was no animosity on either party for or about the parting, that it’s simply an element of the business.

‘This was a very, very fast thing, I think too fast for everybody,’ Davidson said. ‘We’re concentrating on the future. This is one of those things that happen in this profession, one of the hardest things in the world to do.’

Davidson said the search for a new head coach will be an ‘open field, as always.’ Several coaches on the staff have head coaching experience and could be candidates, or the new coach could come from outside, as Etheredge did (from T.R. Miller) when he replaced Ryan Herring.

The day-to-day responsibilities of the program will fall on the remaining coaches until a hire is made.

Oxford starts spring practice shorty after the state track meet in May. Davidson hopes to have the new coach in place by then, but reiterated no timeline has yet been established.

‘The process starts immediately,’ Davidson said.

The Auburn school board approved Etheredge at a specially called meeting Friday the head coach attended.

Etheredge called his two seasons at Oxford “two of the best years” of his career and he has nothing but love and respect for the program there. He reiterated the move was made in the interest of his family.

“It was fast,” he said. “It was an exciting time. Oxford was great, it was just a great opportunity for me and my family. Life-changing. It was a step I feel like I needed to take.”

Etheredge met with his Oxford team prior to leaving and said it was tough to say good-bye.

“A lot of tears, a lot of hugging,” he said. “It’s almost like leaving your own kids.”

The mutual fondness is such Davidson said he would be rooting for Etheredge and Auburn every day — as long as Auburn stays 7A. Etheredge said he’d continue to root for Oxford every day regardless and if they were ever to meet on the field he’s worry about that at a that time.

There isn’t likely to be a salary escalation in the bid to land Oxford’s new coach, as there is in college football. That, of course, would be left to the superintendent’s office to determine.

‘It’s not an arms race,’ Davidson said. ‘It’s high school football.’

Etheredge reportedly came to Oxford for a base salary of $100,000. Auburn reportedly is one of the highest-paying high school coaching jobs in the state.

Davidson cautioned the public about believing anything it reads on social media regarding any reasons for Etheredge’s decision to leave. He called some of the comments that have followed it ‘totally laughable.’

The new coach at Oxford will reap the benefit of a multi-million-dollar renovation project as well as the holdover players from a team that won a state championship in 2019 (Etheredge’s first year) and reached the state quarterfinals this past season.

’For anyone coming in it’s an exciting time,’ Davidson said.

This story will be updated. 

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