A long high school coaching career that saw him bring three state championships to the program came to an end for Booker T. Washington football coach Tim “Ice” Harris on Monday evening.
That’s when Florida Memorial University announced that Harris has taken the reins as the new coach as the school is launching a rebirth of its program.
FMU last competed in football in 1958 when the school was known as Florida Normal Industrial Institute and competed in the Southeastern Athletic Conference.
“I’m so excited about being the new football coach at Florida Memorial University,” Harris said in a news release from FMU. “This has been something that I’ve worked for my whole career, and I’m so excited and so committed to making sure that I do an awesome job here. When this press conference is over, the recruiting process will start.”
As excited as the Florida Memorial folks were, things probably aren’t so rosy over at BTW as Harris was considered the “Pied Piper” of Miami-Dade County when it came to attracting some of the top athletes to come play for him.
According to FMU athletic director Ernest Jones, he officially became employed by the school Monday. The Miami Herald has learned that Ben Hanks, an assistant at BTW for the past decade, will take over as the new head coach, at least on an interim basis and possibly split duties for Earl Tillman.
The Herald reached out to Harris on Tuesday to confirm the hiring of Hanks and he stated that his belief was that the job would be on an interim basis and would be split between Hanks and Tillman, who coached the team from 2008-10.
Hanks played for Miami High in he early ‘90s, went on to star as an All-American at the University of Florida before playing professionally for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Another seismic shift on the high school coaching front could be on the horizon as well as the Herald has also learned the Carol City coach Benedict Hyppolite, who served under Harris as his offensive coordinator during the title run, will join Harris’ staff as the offensive coordinator.
Reached by text message on Tuesday, Hyppolite responded “I have no comments at the moment. When time prevails, I will let you know.”
As far as his current post as the Chiefs’ head coach, Hyppolite was noticeably absent from his team’s appearance at the Miami Dolphins High School media day on Aug. 3.
Assistant coach Josh Taylor was up at the podium taking questions instead. The Chiefs are scheduled to take on Norland in a Kickoff Classic at Traz Powell on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Harris’ coaching résumé and status as a high school coaching giant in South Florida precedes him. He will bring more than 22 years of coaching experience within South Florida communities with him to FMU — including those three state titles at Booker T., including the program’s first in 2007.
Harris then left to join Randy Shannon’s coaching staff at the University of Miami in 2008, where he remained for three years as assistant director of football operations.
When Harris returned to the program in 2011, the Tornadoes were right back in Orlando, losing to Jacksonville Bolles in the Class 4A title game before putting together state titles in 2012 and 2013. Harris returned to UM in 2014 as running backs coach under Al Golden for two seasons before once again returning to BTW as the head coach in 2016.
The Tornadoes lost in the state semifinal in 2016, missed the playoffs in 2017 and were upset by Glades Central in the first round last year. But a roster loaded with talent still exists, and the team is expected to challenge for another state title this season.
“I’m very excited about the hiring of coach Tim Harris, the inaugural football coach of Florida Memorial University revived football program,” FMU President Dr. Jaffus Hardrick said. “I’m looking to where we’re about to go, and I’m looking forward to developing a winning tradition at Florida Memorial.”