Vaught's Views: Title Town also sending Chase Harp to Kentucky

December 24, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

The Title Town connections with the University of Kentucky football program keep increasing.

Former Danville quarterback Chase Harp is returning to his alma mater as a graduate assistant coach after spending the 2004 season in the same position with the Syracuse football team.

Harp played at Kentucky from 1999-2002 and started two years at tight end.

Earlier this week Boyle County coach Chuck Smith, a former Kentucky linebacker, also joined Rich Brooks' staff as the linebackers coach.

Former Boyle players Jacob Tamme and Taylor Begley are also at Kentucky along with former Danville player Andrew Hopewell.

"Since I played there and want to get into college coaching, I wanted to coach there," said Harp via telephone from Syracuse Thursday night. "Kentucky is where my heart is. I know I am going to love being there and being part of this program when it starts doing well."


Harp worked with coach Rich Brooks' staff last spring and got to know most of the coaches. However, when a chance came to get a graduate assistant's spot at Syracuse, he took it.

"I knew there might be an opening at Kentucky in January," Harp said. "You have a two-year, or maybe three-year, window as a graduate assistant. Once you get a degree, you move on and try to make some money.

"I came up here a year just to have something to fall back on if I didn't get a job at Kentucky. I have enjoyed every minute here."

He was more of an administrative assistant than coach at Syracuse. He saw a different side of football from game planning.

"I had never been around a lot of that administrative stuff like financial aide and setting up team meals," Harp said. "It was educational."

He'll help with the offense

At Kentucky, he'll be coaching on the offensive side. He'll likely help with film breakdown, scouting and supervising the scout team.

"Whatever they need, I'll do," he said. "I'm guessing I'll be reporting to anybody who needs anything. Everything trickles down, but I will at least be on the field."

He's not sure what role offensive coordinator Joker Phillips will give him, but he's hoping he'll have a chance to share his insights with players at various times.

"There is a lot I don't know. I have realized that here," Harp said. "I will be a coach, but I will be at the bottom. I can throw in my two cents, but I am not going to get up in a room and talk over coach Brooks or coach Phillips."

Harp will be happy to get back to Kentucky for a lot of reasons. Syracuse got its first snow in October. When the Orangemen returned earlier this week from playing in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, the water pipes were frozen at Harp's house, forcing him to go to the football offices to shower.

He was also scheduled to fly home for Christmas Thursday but after spending seven hours at the airport, including two hours aboard a plane on the runaway, his flight was canceled. He was hoping to get home today.

"I can't wait to get back to Kentucky," Harp said. "It's been a long time since I have been home."

A new appreciation for SEC football

His time at Syracuse did convince him that Southeastern Conference football is better than even he realized.

"The SEC is a tough league. I've seen from my time in the Big East that there is just a big difference in SEC teams," Harp said. "Kentucky isn't going to rebuild in a year or two. You have to get the horses in there. It takes time to win and get a constant flow of good players to where you can go to bowl games every year. But it can be done at Kentucky and I want to help that happen."

He fully endorses Smith's move to Kentucky, too.

"I think that is a really good hire," Harp, who played against Smith's teams, said. "Former players just like a program with a little more pride. I'm really looking forward to being around him."

Harp hopes he'll learn enough the next two years to be able to land a full-time Division I job because he knows coaching is what he wants to do.

"You can learn something new every day coaching. It's not just sitting behind a desk with the same plan every day," Harp said. "You have to love your job, but if you do there's nothing better than coaching because no two days are going to be alike."

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