Today, it was announced that Associate Head Coach David Harper has been promoted to Head football coach at Ferrum College. Coach Harper assumes the duties after the retirement of Dave Davis. Davis retired at the end of this past season... His 17th as a head coach, and 27th overall. Davis announced his intention to retire just prior to the beginning of this season.
Harper joined the Panther coaching staff in 1991, after having coached at Davidson College for two years. In 1993, Harper was named defensive coordinator, and stayed in that position until 1999 when he was named offensive coordinator. In both positions Harper's offensive and defensive units have shown consistent success.
The move to head coach will make Harper the sixth head coach in the history of the 56 year old football program. Ferrum first fielded a team in 1955 under head coach Sam Webb. Webb was in that position for two seasons before leaving after the 1956 campaign. Webb was replaced by Carson Barnes, who also coached for two years, and left after the 1958 season. Barnes was replaced by Lewis Lane, who was the head coach for the 1959 season. In 1960, Hank Norton was hired as head coach, and stayed in that position for 34 seasons, retiring in 1993. Norton ended with a career record of 244-77-11, and four Junior College National Championships. Norton was replaced by Davis, and Davis finished with a record of 87-79.
Ferrum has a tradition of being a tough opponent, and a winner on the gridiron, although the success has been more mediocre in recent years. While I fully expect Ferrum football under Harper to once again be viewed at as a top flight program, it will not happen overnight. Harper like most new coaches, will need time to build the program. It will be a process. I expect a build up of the program in many aspects. I would look for a new and stronger emphasis on recruiting, and also a major emphasis on player retention. Look for a more aggressive physical training program, all in an effort to return Ferrum to being a top flight program. I expect to see great things from the Ferrum program, but not overnight. I hope to interview Coach Harper soon.