Every morning this fall, Tim Daniels will get in his car and make the same short drive to Red Bank High School like he’s done for the last decade. He’ll be there throughout the day, teaching at the same school where he came to be a head football coach in 2002.
The difference when school starts back this August, will be where he goes when the final bell rings in the afternoon. He’ll get in his car again, instead of taking the walk down the hallway and into the Red Bank locker room.
As he drives, the pressures of being a head coach will slip away.
He’ll pull into the lot at Baylor School as an offensive line coach, with a little lighter load.
“When you’re head the coach, you put everything on top of yourself,” Daniels said. “I was just kind of tired of having the responsibility that (a head coach) carries. I love Red Bank, I love Red Bank football, those players, those coaches and the support people. It was just an awesome situation, but I just got to the point where it was time for me to step aside.”
Daniels stepped down at Red Bank in early February. Just before that, he began looking for the right opportunity in which to move forward. He reached out to Baylor, among others.
Some were anxious to bring him him in immediately. Phil Massey, the head coach at Baylor, wasn’t hesitant, but had to ensure the situation would be appropriate for both parties.
“I was certainly excited,” Massey said. “I was wanting to be optimistic about it, but at the time we didn’t have anything. As the winter went through and the spring came, things started moving. That’s when I got excited about it and thought, ‘Hey this could really happen.’ He’s the kind of guy — he had choices.”
Last year, Victor McClure and Bo Bohannon each helped coach the offensive line at Baylor. Both, though, have moved on to different professions since the end of the last football season.
By the time spring practice began this year, everything had fallen into place for Daniels.
“When I knew I was going to make that decision (to step down at Red Bank), I kind of got out there and started knocking on some doors—figuring if I do this, am I going to be able to find something that I want to do?” Daniels said.
Daniels spent the spring working with a young group of linemen, which only returns one starter from the team that reached the Division II-AA state championship game for the second straight season in 2011. Derrick Green is the lone returner, while the biggest hole will be left by Barrett Gouger, a Vanderbilt signee who was named Division II’s Mr. Football lineman of the year.
“They’re a great group of kids,” Daniels said. “We’ve got several other guys that got quality snaps, but we’re fairly young.”
Sometimes this spring, Daniels would slip back into head-coach mode. He’d look at the whole team and begin to ask questions from a managerial point of view.
What needs to be done next? Do I need to order more equipment? What else needs to be done off the field?
Then he’d catch himself.
“As an assistant coach those worries aren’t there as much,” Daniels said. “I find myself worrying about those things, then realizing that I don’t need to.”
Daniels began as a high school head coach at Loudon, where he spent eight years before coming to Red Bank. During his career, he amassed 149 wins as a head coach. His Red Bank teams reached the playoffs in each of the last eight years, while averaging nine wins per season over the same span.
The whole time, though, he worked closely with the offensive line. He was a guard in college at the University of Tennessee.
“I know when you drop down to an assistant, it allows you to really get back to coaching and get close with your position kids,” said Massey, who had bounced between being an assistant and head coach before landing at Baylor six years ago.” When you are the head coach, you’ve got so many things going on that sometimes you don’t get to have that relationship that you really want because you’re so busy with the administrative end of it.”
The move away from the head coaching position has allowed Daniels to release responsibility while maintaining a familiar role. The proximity of the two schools made it easier. The schedule worked out as well.
Red Bank lets out at 2:15 in the afternoon, when Daniels would usually move from the classroom to the locker room. This year, he’ll be able to make his way to Baylor with no need to rush. The Red Raiders don’t usually start practice until 4:30.
The timing is perfect.
“It’s an ideal situation,” Daniels said.