Source: Sherman Publications

Jim Bates selected as part of OHS Athletic Hall of Fame

by Andrew Moser

July 28, 2010

James “Jim” Bates had an outstanding career as an athlete at Oxford High School, earning 10 varsity letters in four sports.

Even though he lettered in basketball, baseball and track and field, it was his football career that allowed Bates to cement his place in OHS sports history, thus earning him a spot in the inaugural class of the OHS Athletics Hall of Fame.

“I think it is a great honor,” said Bates, who currently resides in Tampa, FL. “I had great experiences in my childhood growing up in Oxford. I had good teachers and a great foundation and I feel very honored to be part of that inaugural class.”

Bates would be named to the all-county and all-league football teams during his senior season at OHS. Upon his graduation in 1964, we walked on to the University of Tennessee football squad and earned a scholarship to play linebacker.

During his junior year at Tennessee, the Volunteers Southeastern Conference (SEC) title and finished second nationally.

After he earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, he went on to become a graduate assistant before beginning his stellar coaching career.

He started out at the high school ranks, coaching at Sevier (TN) County High School for three years before moving on to coach Southern Mississippi in 1972.

In 1973, he led the offensive line for Villanova University before switching to linebacker coach. He spent the next two seasons as Kansas State’s linebacker coach before becoming the secondary coach at West Virginia University in 1977.

He held that same position at Texas Tech University for two seasons and then was promoted to defensive coordinator/secondary coach.

Bates professional career began as a defensive coordinator for the United States Football League’s San Antonio Gunslingers in 1984 and was named head coach in 1985. In 1986, he was named the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Outlaws.

After spending all of 1987 out of football, he joined the Detroit Drive of the Arena Football League as an assistant coach in 1988. He then went back down to the college ranks in 1989 as a linebacker coach at Tennessee. Bates was named the defensive coordinator/secondary coach at the University of Florida in 1990 when the Gators won the SEC title.

His National Football League coaching career began when he was named a linebacker coach for the Cleveland Browns in 1991. He stayed in Cleveland to coach the defensive ends in 1992-1993 before ascending to the defensive coordinator position with the Atlanta Falcons a year later.

He returned to the Browns in 1995 as a secondary coach before working with the Dallas Cowboys as linebacker coach in 1996-1997 and assistant head coach/defensive line in 1998-99.

Bates then moved to Miami, where he led a Dolphins defense that never finished worse than 10th in the league in total yards allowed. They led the league in fewest passing yards allowed in 2001, only giving up 176.8 yards a game, while only allowing 162 passing yards a game during his five seasons a defensive coordinator.

During his tenure in Miami (2000-04), Bates’ defense ranked fifth in yards allowed. In addition, they didn’t allow a 100 yard rusher the last four games of the 2002 season and the entire 2003 season.

According to Bates, his proudest moment came in 2004, when he took over as interim coach and led the Dolphins to a 29-28 victory over the eventual Super Bowl champions New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.

He wound up guiding the Dolphins to a 3-4 record as the interim coach.

“It was a great experience because then I was able to touch everybody,” Bates said. “I was able to help all positions, be in front of the team and motivate the team...the players responded and there was a lot of electricity as far as those last seven weeks of the season.”

During his time in Miami, he produced 19 Pro Bowl selections.

After Miami, he accepted the Defensive Coordinator position with the Green Bay Packers in 2005 before serving as the assistant head coach/defensive with the Denver Broncos in 2007.

He then moved to the Defensive Coordinator position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009.

Bates knew from the moment he stepped on the field as a freshman at OHS that all he wanted to do was coach football.

“I believe that this is something that I was always meant to do, to coach a position and to coach players because I had such a passion for it,” Bates said. He added that it was “more or less in the blood.”

He contributes his successful career to the amount of training he has received over his years of playing football and coaching.

“I think I had good training all the way up, starting right with Oxford High School,” said Bates. “I then had a good college coach and I have coached under some great coaches.”

One of his biggest influences was coaching under Bill Belichick, who allowed him to coach the defensive line, linebacker and the secondary.

“It gave me an opportunity to get hands on with all the different positions on defensive. This allowed me to have a lot more expertise at the position as being a coordinator,” Bates said.

Football definitely runs in the Bates blood. His son Jeremy is currently the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks while his son James was a linebacker and captain of the 1996 National Champion Florida Gators.