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Coming home: Mitchell returns to coach Springville

Published: Friday, Feb. 8 2008 12:59 a.m. MST

Scott Mitchell, right, former Springville High, University of Utah and NFL quarterback, tries on a Springville High hat given to him by principal Rick Robins.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

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SPRINGVILLE — For the past few years, Scott Mitchell and his family have been able to watch from home the nightly fireworks at Disney World.

"Mickey Mouse is my neighbor," Mitchell said Thursday at a press conference introducing him as the new Springville High football coach.

Such a lifestyle has many wondering why the former Red Devils, University of Utah and NFL quarterback is leaving the 80-degree winters and his lucrative real-estate career for a less-than-minimum-wage coaching job and the snow-packed roads of Utah. He admits that it does kind of defy common sense. But the lure of working with young people and getting back into football again has him making the seemingly uncommon move.

"This is one of those things that just feels right," Mitchell said. "No matter where I've lived, this is where I've always been from. I want to be able to come back and give what I know."

It was that kind of sincerity that made principal Rick Robins decide Mitchell was the right man for the Red Devils' post.

"The one thing that I thought really stood out about Scott was his passion, love and commitment for Springville and the community and the kids here," Robins said. "I'm just thrilled to have him on our staff."

Some are expecting Mitchell to be the one who rescues the Red Devils from two straight disappointing seasons in which they won a combined five games. But when Mitchell meets with parents and players tonight, he's going to remind them that his past success and fame as a college and NFL quarterback don't guarantee the Red Devils any additional wins in the future.

Those kind of results will only come with everyone involved in the program having the same level of commitment, the same vision, same dedication and being part of the same journey. Mitchell will tell players and parents that that journey begins today.

"One of my greatest assets is bringing people together," he said.

Still, Mitchell's football experience and contacts certainly can't hurt the Red Devils on their road to recovery. However, Mitchell didn't reveal much Thursday about the style of football that he'll bring to his alma mater. Mainly, because he doesn't yet know. Rather than come in with a determined offensive and defensive system in mind, he wants to see the personnel with which he has to work.

"I don't want to feed them steak if they're only ready for vegetables and fruit," he said.

But he does plan to pass on some of the principles of success that he's learned over his professional career. Mainly, that success doesn't happen by accident. He wants his players to work hard, practice hard, learn to focus and learn to prepare.

"I won't expect them all to go on to play college football or in the NFL, but I will expect them to have some kind of success in their lives," he said.

He also has a philosophy of how football should be played.

"I'll expect my players to run hard to the football, expect them to start strong and expect them to finish," Mitchell said.

The first big challenge facing the new coach is assembling a staff. Springville will hire a new advanced conditioning teacher who will also likely be one of Mitchell's assistants. He plans to hire others who have the time, energy and knowledge, but also some who just know the ins and outs of high school football.

"I want people who share my vision and who are committed to what we are doing," he said.

Another key to improving Springville's football program, Mitchell said, is improving and coordinating the community's youth football leagues. Those programs need to teach kids proper football fundamentals. Mitchell also said Springville football will be about more than just winning.

"I believe you win the right way and that you lose the right way," he said. "You always need to have respect for your opponents."

Mitchell led the Red Devils to a state title in 1985. He then went on to throw for nearly 9,000 yards and 69 touchdowns in three seasons at Utah. In 12 NFL seasons — playing for Miami, Detroit, Baltimore and Cincinnati — he threw for more than 15,000 yards and 95 touchdowns. His best year was with Detroit in 1995, when he threw for more than 4,000 yards and 32 TDs.

Mitchell and his family are expected to make the permanent move from Florida to Utah within the next two months.


E-mail: jimr@desnews.com

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