Jeff Karras hired as new Roosevelt football coach; Yarbrough out
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org August 1, 2012 4:16PM
Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune South Central coach Jeff Karras coaches from the sidelines against Wheeler at Wheeler High School September 17, 2010.
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:22PM
The combustible, nomadic, prodigal and highly successful football coach has landed again — this time in his hometown.
Jeff Karras took over at Roosevelt on Wednesday, a little over a year after he resigned from South Central and just months after he filed a lawsuit against the Michigan City school system for wrongful termination. Karras was an assistant under Wolves head coach Michael Karpinski last year.
Eric Yarbrough, the Roosevelt coach for the past three seasons, was 4-21. New athletic director A.J. Rodriguez, who was just hired on Tuesday, made the call to terminate Yarbrough immediately. Rodriguez was a former football coach at East Chicago.
According to Karras, there were grave concerns about getting enough players to field a team under Yarbrough. Karras said only nine players showed up for the first two days of practice. Karras had planned on taking the year off to watch his nephew, an offensive lineman for Illinois, play. Roosevelt’s transition to Roosevelt Career and Academy Center under Edison Learning has been a difficult one, with the new school still trying to figure out how many kids are enrolled.
Rodriguez had planned on evaluating Yarbrough for a year, but he felt like he needed to make a move immediately because the team didn’t have players.
He told Karras Tuesday evening that “maybe the change should be made now.”
Karras spent the morning in meetings with Rodriguez and he left with the job in hand. Karras has an overall record of 40-19. His coaching resume includes stops at Andrean, Clark, Rose Hulman (assistant), Rich South in Illinois (assistant), South Central, and Michigan City (assistant).
At his last head coaching stop, Karras led South Central to its first sectional title. Then he quit when he landed a job at Michigan City, saying the commute from his position as a teacher at Rich South to South Central was too exhausting. Karras also made news in 2010 when he overslept and arrived at halftime of one of the Satellites’ games.
He left Michigan City abruptly after he was terminated. Karras said he was pulled out of class in the spring and ordered to take a drug test — a test he passed. He then took a leave of absence and was fired when he returned. Karras said he has filed a lawsuit against the school corporation for his dismissal.
Karras plans to hire Larry Banks, a former Wirt assistant, as his wide receivers coach, and said Robert Moore, the captain of his 2001 Andrean team, which he led to the state championship game, will help in some capacity.
Asked how he is going to field a team that has to play Michigan City and Portage in its first two games and only has nine players out, Karras said: “In one capacity or another, they are going to have to forget what they knew about football and start over. They’re going to have to ask their friends to play. I just want to be straight with them. I don’t want to be too hard on them. I want them to play state championship football. Even if you don’t reach that goal, good things will happen.”
Karras, who lives in Miller on the beach, is deeply connected to his hometown.
“I can’t think of anything better than giving back to my community,” he said. “I’m proud of being from Gary. I’m ready to go, man.”
A phone call to Yarbrough was not returned.