College Football High School

Billy Rolle, “Ice” Harris Joining FAMU Coaching Staff

South Florida just lost two of its most respected and most decorated high school football coaches.

Reports surfaced late Monday night from Tallahassee-based media corroborating information received from Miami Sports Tribune sources last week that Southridge’s Billy Rolle and Miami Booker T. Washington’s Tim “Ice” Harris will be leaving their respective high school posts to take positions on Florida A&M University’s coaching staff.

MST sources – like Monday’s night’s reports – said that Rolle, a FAMU alumni, will serve as associate head coach under new Rattlers leader Willie Simmons while Harris will be a position coach.

As of Wednesday, Florida A&M had not made any formal announcements regarding any changes to its coaching staff. But WCTV reported Tuesday that the hires will be made official in January.

Simmons, who was introduced as Florida A&M’s new leading man on December 12, made a “power move” bringing in two of South Florida’s best coaches – likely improving the Rattlers’ relationship with the South Florida community. The Rattlers went 3-8 in 2017 and lost to rival Bethune-Cookman for the seventh straight year in the “Florida Classic”.

For Rolle, the move to the college ranks is “long overdue”.

Rolle, 57, spent 18 seasons as a head coach in Miami-Dade County and at four different schools. Success followed Rolle, becoming the first coach in Florida high school football history to win state championships at three different schools.

He led Miami Northwestern to state titles 1998 and 2007 – in two separate stints – guided Miami Killian to its lone football championship in 2004 and steered Miami Southridge to a Class 8A championship in 2016.

Through his total tenure, Rolle compiled a 172-53 record as a head coach while being a two-time winner of the Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year award and receiving national attention for his leadership of Northwestern’s 2007 mythical national championship team – which is still regarded as one of the best high school football teams in recent history.

For Harris, the move to FAMU is a return to the collegiate level.

Harris leaves Booker T., where he spent a total of 10 seasons over three different stints. In his complete time leading the Tornadoes, Harris was 112-20 and led the program to three Class 4A state championships (2007, 2012 and 2013) and a mythical national title in 2013.

However, since returning for his final stint before the 2016 season, Harris was just 13-10 and failed to make the postseason in 2017.

As late as this past Wednesday, it was speculated that Harris was in consideration for the head coach position at Miami Jackson High – his alma mater. Jackson ended up naming former Miami Central assistant Scott Daniels Friday and the allure of returning to college coaching was too great for Harris.

Nonetheless, hiring Rolle and Harris – who worked together on the high school level at Northwestern – serves as a “home run” for FAMU.

Harris’ resume is just as impressive as Rolle’s.

In his time at Booker T., Harris was a three-time winner of the Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year Award and was named the 2007 USA Today National Coach of the Year.

Harris was the architect of Booker T.’s program and facilitated it making five consecutive appearances (2011-2015) in the Class 4A state title game and winning four straight crowns with three different coaches – Harris himself in 2012 and 2013, his son Tim Harris Jr. in 2014 and Earl Tillman in 2015.

“Ice” also led Booker T.’s boys track and field team to a share of the state championship in 2007.

Harris also spent a total of five seasons on coaching staffs at the University of Miami under Randy Shannon (2008-2010) and Al Golden (2014-2015) – being named the Hurricanes’ running backs coach in 2015.

Tallahassee’s gain, however, is definitely Miami-Dade’s loss.

Southridge and Booker T., two powerhouse programs, will be hot commodity jobs. As of Tuesday, neither school had announced interim coaches.

For the Tornadoes, the most likely candidate choice would be to promote Tillman back to the post. Tillman served as the Tornadoes’ full-time head coach from 2008 to 2010 and again in 2015, when he led the team to a state title.

Calls to Booker T. and Southridge’s athletic directors were not immediately returned.

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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