Vernon Fox was making plans for his annual summer football camp in Mesquite last month when a friend casually mentioned that Faith Lutheran was looking for a head coach.
Fox started laughing.
“It was just funny,” he said. “I never thought about coaching on that level.”
But the more Fox thought about the opening, the more sense it made. And on Tuesday, the Cimarron-Memorial product and former NFL defensive back was introduced as the Crusaders’ coach during a news conference at the school.
Fox, 34, replaces Jake Kothe, who resigned after guiding the Crusaders to eight playoff appearances in 12 seasons.
“It’s a unique experience to come here to Faith Lutheran,” Fox said, “because not only am I able to implement athletic enrichment to these young men, but there’s another spiritual aspect that, as a minister, I can help enrich their lives that way as well.”
Fox starred at Cimarron before heading to Fresno State, where he was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection in 2000 and 2001. After going undrafted in 2002, Fox played two seasons each with the San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos.
Fox retired from the NFL after the 2009 season and spent the past two years doing motivational speaking along with occasional TV and radio appearances.
This is his first coaching job at any level.
“He came into the process right at the end and with all of the characteristics and core values the school shares,” Faith Lutheran athletic director Bret Walter said.
“Obviously you can take a look at his background with him being a local guy, with his accolades as a scholar and an athlete, we just felt like he is the perfect role model for our kids.”
Faith Lutheran struggled after moving up to the Class 4A level before the 2009 season. The Crusaders went 5-5 last season and qualified for the Division I-A playoffs.
Under Kothe, Faith Lutheran featured a pass-happy offense, often throwing more than 50 times per game. Fox said he expects the Crusaders to be more balanced.
“Naturally, just the kind of person I am, I am a tough-nosed football player,” Fox said. “That’s really what I want. I want to be less finesse, and I want these guys to be grinders and be tough in the trenches.”
In other football coaching news, Preston Goroff resigned after nine seasons at Del Sol.
Goroff compiled a 59-42 record with two Southeast League titles and five straight playoff appearances from 2006 to 2010, including a berth in the 2009 Class 4A state title game.