Jim Place couldn’t help himself. Still smitten after all these coaching years, he’s going home. This time, to Cincinnati.
“For me, Withrow is a 10,” said Place, who on Monday was named head football coach at the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference high school.
“It’s everything that I wanted. It’s an urban district, which I really feel is my calling. They are committed to winning and I like to win. It’s a perfect 10 and a perfect match for me.”
His hiring must be approved by the board of education, but that appears to be a formality.
The position opened when former coach Charles “Doc” Gamble joined the University of Cincinnati coaching staff earlier this month.
He already has had a sudden impact on Withrow Athletic Director Darren Braddix.
“He’s taken the bull by the horns already,” Braddix said.
“He was here at 8 o’clock on Monday and full of questions. He’s already gotten things moving in a positive direction for us in a short time. He’ll be good for our program.”
Place, 63, is among the most well known — and most traveled — coaches in the Southwest District.
He led Chaminade Julienne to the 2002 Division II state championship and also was head coach at Beavercreek, Stebbins and Middletown.
He began his head coaching career in 1974 at Springfield Northwestern. He most recently was the head coach at Hamilton, from 2006-09.
An engaging motivational speaker, Place spent last fall visiting practices throughout the area and lecturing about character education.
Withrow was 6-4 last season after an 0-4 start, finishing 12th in D-I, Region 4.
“I’m not a fixer,” Place said. “Sometimes you’ve got to come in and fix it. I’m a guy who’s just trying to take (Withrow) to the next level. The program is very good.”
A Division I program, the Tigers belong to the Queen City’s version of the Dayton City League. That appealed to Place.
He won’t have a teaching position, but will be involved with a character education program within the school system, like he was at Hamilton.
In 2009-10, Hamilton was selected the Ohio School of Character and was voted among the top 25 character programs in the country.
He’ll continue to reside in Dayton. He said the commute is the same — 54 minutes — as it was to Hamilton.
“Just back on I-75 again,” he said.
“It’s different; a different experience. I really feel that at this point in my life I want to be in the Cincinnati Public or Dayton Public. This is the job that opened up and this is the fit.”
It didn’t take long for the area coaching fraternity to weigh in on his decision. Most comments, Place said, went like this: “What are you doing?
“A couple said, ‘Why don’t you just retire like the rest of us?’ I said, ‘Nope, I’m a coach, that’s what I do.’ ”
Week 9 will be somewhat of a homecoming for Place when Withrow will play Meadowdale at Welcome Stadium.
The Tigers have qualified for the D-II playoffs twice, losing both times in the first round. Their 2007 playoff team fell 38-28 to Carroll.
In comparison, CJ landed in the postseason eight times with Place, including seven straight from 1998-2004.
Withrow bumped up to D-I in 2009 and will remain there at least for the next two seasons.
The draw for his return to the sideline remained strong.
“I can live without coaching, but I can’t live without being a coach,” he said.
“I like coaching the game and everything that goes with it, but what I love is being a coach. I’ve spent 18 months as Jim Place. Now, I’m Coach Place again.”
Jim Place at a glance
Hamilton, 2006-09: 16-24 record.
Chaminade Julienne, 1991-2005; 2002 D-II state champs; 8 playoff appearances; 110 wins in 15 seasons.
Middletown, 1985-90: 48 wins in six years; 3 playoff appearances.
Stebbins, 1982-84: Coached national defensive player of the year Brent White.
Springfield Northwestern, 1974-75
Captain of 1969 University of Dayton football team; selected for North/South All-American game
From Massillon (Canton Central Catholic grad)
Coaching record: 223-161-3.
Founding member of Miami Valley Football Coaches Association.