Former Ooltewah assistant Doug Greene has been hired as the football coach at Rhea County.
"Rhea County is a good job, a program with a lot of history and tradition and a program that is used to winning," said Greene, who has coached on the high school and college levels. "Two things that were attractive to me were that there is only one high school in the county and that the county is full of avid football fans. I felt there were a lot of positives to [accepting the position]."
Rhea County had initially hired Danny Adams from Winfield, Ala., to replace Jason Fitzgerald after Fitzgerald resigned earlier this month but Adams resigned after just a day on the job.
Greene, who had a handful of interviews elsewhere, said the appearance of being the school's second choice didn't matter.
"I wouldn't have taken this job if I felt they didn't really want me," he said.
After making his decision, Greene canceled two job interviews in Alabama and also pulled out of the running for a defensive coordinator's post under Graham Clark at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett.
"Doug's references were outstanding," Rhea County assistant principal and athletic director Micah Ruehling said. "When you have worked for Ken Sparks, Gary Rankin and Benny Monroe, you have been with some outstanding coaches. When you talk about football in Tennessee those are three names that are thrown around on a regular basis and on a high level."
Sparks is the long time coach at Carson Newman. Monroe, the coach at Cleveland for years, was among the state's winningest high school coaches when he stepped down at Ooltewah following the 2009 season. Rankin built a powerhouse at Murfreesboro Riverdale before moving to Alcoa where his teams have won seven straight state championships.
Greene played for Monroe at Cleveland before going to Millsaps College for two years to play football and baseball. He then transferred to MTSU and was a two-year starter for the Blue Raiders in baseball.
"I may be from Cleveland but I know about Rhea County football," he said. "I want to find out the things that make Rhea County what it is. There are some traditions we need and want to keep and I'm not going in with expectations of everybody doing what I want to do. I'm going to find out the best way to do things in Rhea County. I want to be a part of the program and the community."
In addition to coaching this past season at Carson-Newman, Greene worked as an assistant from 2004-06 at the University of West Alabama where he coached defensive backs and linebackers.
"I've worked with a lot of fine coaches, and I have tried to soak up all they had to offer," he said.
He wasn't sure how much that would help considering the two-week coach/player no-contact period goes into effect on Monday and that Rhea County's opener with Powell is less than two months away.
At Lake Guntersville in Alabama for a large family reunion he was hosting, Greene planned to leave there at 4 a.m. this morning in order to meet with Rhea players at 8:30 a.m. He had already visited with offensive line coach Tommy Mitchell but planned a staff meeting after seeing the players.
"If we were in a horse race I would barely be able to see the competition over the horizon," he said. "We're going to be playing catch-up for a while, but there are some things Rhea County has been doing well for a while and I'd be foolish to make a bunch of changes knowing we have less than eight weeks to get ready for Powell."
Ruling is realistic but without concerns.
"Doug has a knowledge base that is phenomenal. It was never a factor that he has never been a head coach, especially when you consider the folks he has trained under," he said. "We're excited about the potential he brings to our program."