We have had many great coaches to achieve great things in our state. Go to a second state and produce great teams is something else. Only a Robert Herring could do it in 3 different states.
A four sport start at Louisville Miss his skills landed him at Miss. College where he played 3 sports and eventually graduated from Miss State. “I knew I wanted to be a coach as a young boy,” Coach Herring once said. “For me the dream was born when I saw the first state championship near my hometown. I saw what it did for the town and how the boys were treated. I knew then what I wanted to do.” In 1969 he took his first head coaching job at Jones Valley in Jefferson County. After 4 seasons there and a one year stint as an assistant coach at North Alabama, he returned to his hometown in Mississippi to Winston Academy and earned the first of his state titles in 1975. Robert added another in 1983 before heading back to Alabama. After one year at Oneonta where he won 9 games, the marriage between Robert Herring and the Oxford Yellow Jackets began in 1985. Herring had an impeccable attention to detail, an uncanny football mind and a great ability to undersell his team to the press.
In 1988 the Jackets went on a run winning playoff games against Emma Samson, Pell City, Walter Wellborn and Muscle Shoals. On December 2, 1988 Oxford traveled to Smiths Station and beat the Panthers 21-14 behind three TD passes from Jason Jack. The last TD pass came with the scored tied with 8:52 left in the game. Oxford was 14-0 and had their first state championship. A year later the two teams met in the finals again, this time in Oxford. In a wild game the Jackets prevailed 37-35 and Robert Herring and Oxford had back to back state championships. By 1993 Oxford was rolling again. 7 of the 9 regular season opponents scored only one TD and by the end of September they were the #1 ranked 5A team in the state. Herring led the Jackets to four close playoff wins. The finals were played in Oxford vs Greenville. After Greenville knotted the score at 21 in the 3rd quarter Oxford returned the KO 95 yards for a TD and then iced the game in the 4th quarter on a 79 yard run by Chauncey Teague. State champion for the 3rd time in 6 years. The ’93 team finished 14-0 and was also ranked in the top 25 in the nation by USA today.
Robert won 40 more games over the next 5 years and decided at age 58 that he needed a new challenge. So he took a rebuilding job with once proud Newnan Ga. During a 10 year span he won 3 region championships and made it to the semi finals twice. His last team in 2008 gave up only 4.4 points per game. His Newnan team had 6 straight wins over arch rival East Coweta. He retired in 2008 at age 68 not “because I am burned out”, he said. “But to do some things I haven’t had time to do.” He and his wife Gail have four children and enough grandchildren to help keep them busy.
In 45 years of coaching he won 301 games but his victories will never tell the whole story. No one ever loved coaching and talking high school football more than Robert Herring. His lifetime of work over those 45 years and three states exuded professionalism and class at every stop.
Therefore, the ALFCA today proudly bestows its Lifetime Achievement Award upon Coach Robert Herring.