Turner announces retirement after nearly four decades at Mossy Creek

Turner announces retirement after nearly four decades at Mossy Creek – After half a century as a player, coordinator and coach, Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Turner has announced his retirement from coaching.

Turner announces retirement after nearly four decades at Mossy Creek - After half a century as a player, coordinator and coach, Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Turner has announced his retirement from coaching.
Photo: Carson-Newman

Turner announces retirement after nearly four decades at Mossy Creek

Turner spent 38 years on the on the banks of Mossy Creek, two as a player, 33 as an assistant/coordinator and the final three as the 18th head football coach for the Eagles. Across those 38 seasons, Turner accrued 346 wins against 95 losses. As the Eagles’ head coach, he was 24-10, the .705 winning percentage is the third-best in program history.

However, for all the wins and losses, Turner’s focus was always somewhere bigger.

“This has been much more than a job and much more than a career,” Turner said. “It has been a ministry as a coaching staff. It’s brought many great blessings to me as a man, and it’s been a great blessing to me and my family to be a part of this. Every morning, I would go out onto the balcony overlooking the field and pray that those kids would be better every day as a player, as a man and better in their relationship with the Lord.  I’ve come to peace with that and see that’s it’s time to go to the next step in my life. I trust in the Lord that he’s got a great adventure for me left in my life.” 

The maestro behind Carson-Newman’s veer-option attack, Turner’s offenses have been transcendent over the years.  In his 36 seasons on the sidelines at Carson-Newman, Turner’s teams scored 14,333 points.  Since 2000, the Eagles have rushed for 70,517 yards, or 40.07 miles. 

He guided Carson-Newman to the NCAA playoffs for the 26thtime in his final season as head coach. The Eagles defeated previously unbeaten and 11th-ranked Bowie State 17-9 for C-N’s first playoff road win in a decade. 

As head coach, he tutored a quartet of All-Americans in safety Darius Williams, defensive back Desmond Fairell, running back Antonio Wimbush and offensive lineman Phillip McDowell.  Long associated with C-N’s offensive line, he tutored 26 All-American offensive lineman

Since 2007, the Carson-Newman offense has averaged 330.6 yards rushing per game and scored an average of 38.4 points.   The Eagles have also been lauded twice with the Rimington Award winner, which goes to the best center in all Division II, with Kevin Day winning in 2012 and Derek Evans in 2015.

“This news is very tough to hear, but today is also a great time in our history to recognize and celebrate a head coach and his family that have done such a wonderful job for our student-athletes and meant so much to Carson-Newman University,” Carson-Newman Vice President for Athletics Matt Pope said.  “While Mike has a tremendous command of the veer, what is most important is that Mike shares his Christian witness as a leader of men. The hallmark of great coaching is to leave a program better than you found it.  Mike Turner has certainly done that spiritually, academically and athletically. Carson-Newman University and specifically, our football program, is deeply grateful for all that Mike has done.”

A 1973 graduate of C-N, Turner was a standout center for the Eagles and key member of the 1972 NAIA Champion Bowl runner-up team, the first Carson-Newman squad to reach a national title game.

Turner got a chance to win those national titles when he returned to Carson-Newman, after stints as an assistant coach at Randleman (N.C.) High School, Lees-McRae College and Catawba College. Turner coached the offensive line at C-N from 1980-1984, helping the Eagles win two NAIA National Championships. 

In 1985-86, Turner served as offensive coordinator for the University of North Alabama, guiding the offense that finished as the NCAA Division II runner-up in 1985.

Turner returned to the Eagles as offensive coordinator in 1987, helping spark another run of championships. Turner left C-N for a second time to take over the football program at Science Hill High School in 1992.

Returning to Carson-Newman in 1994 as the chief fundraiser for the Eagle Club, Turner once again took command of the Eagles offense in 1995.

Turner was named the AFCA Division II Assistant Coach of the Year in 2003. He and his wife, Conni, reside in Jefferson City, Tenn. They have two children; Jenni and Josh. 

Now, the Masked Bolo will return to Parts Unknown, more than likely to greatly entertain his two grandchildren. 

Pope said a national search to replace Turner is underway. 

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