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February 12, 2008
Sparky Woods Named New VMI Head Football Coach
Formerly served as head coach at South Carolina and Appalachian State
Coach Sparky Woods becomes
the 30th head coach in VMI's
117-year football history. He recently
served as running backs coach
at Alabama from 2003-06.
(Photo courtesy Rolltide.com)
LEXINGTON, Va. – Virginia Military Institute athletic director Donny White announced Tuesday that Sparky Woods will become the Keydets’ new head football coach.

Woods, a veteran coach in the college ranks with over 30 years of experience, replaces Jim Reid who resigned the position in January to become outside linebackers coach for the Miami Dolphins.

Woods becomes the 30th head football coach in the Institute’s 117-year history. He brings ten years of head coaching experience at both the SEC and FCS (I-AA) level.

“I am extremely happy that Sparky Woods was interested in VMI,” said White. “His experience as a head football coach, both at Appalachian State University and the University of South Carolina, put him at the top of our list. I also like his rich background as an offensive coordinator in some outstanding programs. I am excited about the potential of VMI Football and I feel that Coach Woods will build a successful program here.”

"I am pleased that Coach Woods has accepted our offer and the challenge to lead VMI football,” said VMI Superintendent General J.H. Binford Peay III. “ We are fortunate to have such a highly principled, seasoned coach and we are confident in his abilities to win here and do so in the VMI way."

Woods, 54, returns to the FCS (I-AA) ranks where he produced a successful run as head coach of Appalachian State for five seasons from 1984 through 1988. Woods guided the Mountaineers to a 38-19-2 mark and two Southern Conference titles (1986, 1987) and two I-AA playoff appearances. Over the two-year span in ‘86-‘87, Appalachian State posted a perfect 13-0 conference mark.

The Southern Conference tabbed Woods as Coach of the Year for three consecutive years (1985-87) and he was also named Kodak Region II Coach of the Year in 1986. As a head coach overall, Woods holds a 62-47-5 mark.

“We are excited about joining the Keydets,” said Woods. “I wanted to extend my thanks and gratitude to General Peay, the committee, and special thanks to Coach Donny White for the confidence he has shown in us. I am appreciative of Coach Jim Reid and his staff’s contributions to the program and intend to visit with each assistant coach as we go through the process of assembling a staff. I especially look forward to meeting the players as we work together to keep VMI football moving ahead in the years to come.”

Woods recently served as running backs coach at Alabama from 2003 through 2006. While in Tuscaloosa, Woods coached Tide running back Kenneth Darby to two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and also mentored Shaud Williams, who led the SEC in rushing yardage in 2003 and was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker award. The Tide led the SEC in rushing for three consecutive seasons (2003, 2004, 2005).

Woods was also head coach at South Carolina from 1989-93, and later served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Memphis (1995-96), Virginia (1997-98), and Mississippi State. At Virginia, Woods tutored NFL QB Aaron Brooks who finished as the school’s third all-time leading passer (5,118 yds) and second all-time leader in passing TD’s (33). While at MSU, Woods coached MSU’s all-time passing leader Wayne Madkin and help establish record-setting offenses for the Bulldogs.

Woods as an assistant coach participated in five bowl games; the 2006 Cotton Bowl, 2004 Music City Bowl, 2000 Independence Bowl, 1999 Peach Bowl, and 1998 Peach Bowl.

In 1994, Woods served as an offensive assistant for the New York Jets.

Woods is a 1976 graduate of Carson-Newman, and began his coaching career at Tennessee later that year. In 1977, he moved to Kansas before serving one year as defensive backs coach at North Alabama in 1978. From 1979-82 he coached at Iowa State handling the receivers before joining Appalachian State in 1983 as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks, and running backs coach under Mack Brown. One year later, Woods was named head coach at Appalachian State.

Woods is married to the former Jean Ann Higginbotham and the couple has two children, son Casey (24), and daughter Emily (20).



VMI- Named Sparky Woods head football coach

MEDIA ADVISORY – A press conference introducing Coach Woods as new VMI head football coach will be held Friday, February 15, at 1:00 p.m. at the Ferebee Lounge in Clarkson-McKenna Hall located at Alumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium. The Ferebee Lounge is located on the third floor. Media may park in the lot adjacent to the VMI turf practice field and elevator access is located at the Clarkson-McKenna main entrance located underneath the stands. VMIkeydets.com will provide live video and audio streaming of the press conference.

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