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Jim Nagel to coach Linfield QBs

ASHLAND ' Jim Nagel may bring his coaching talents to Raider Stadium after all ' as a Linfield Wildcat.

Nagel, who will soon retire as the Ashland High athletic director, has been hired as the quarterbacks coach at Linfield College.

He joins a Wildcat program with a rich football tradition, which includes three NAIA national championships in the 1980s, a trip to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals in 2003 and a 31-9 record against small-college rival Southern Oregon University.

Nagel, who was set to be the head coach at SOU before pulling out prior to the 1998 season, is ecstatic about the move, which was solidified Monday.

I'm excited, he said. I really like the coaching staff, and I got a chance to meet with the players Monday and really liked them. I think it's just a great fit.

— It's just got so much great tradition. They pack the stadium, there's tremendous enthusiasm and alumni support. It's got all the things you want in a small-college program.

Nagel said he will continue to live in Ashland during the offseason, when he will act as Linfield's regional scout, but will spend the football months in McMinnville. His responsibilities will range from instructing the quarterbacks to helping the coaching staff develop game plans.

He will also teach classes in the fall.

I know (Linfield head coach Jay Locey) wants me to be involved with the game planning, but it's going to take me a while, Nagel said. It's a whole new system. I think the first year, I'll be spending most of my time just figuring out what's going on.

Locey told Nagel of the opening at a Nike coaching clinic about six weeks ago. The two already knew each other from a summer football camp.

Nagel said he never technically applied for the job. It just sort of happened.

(Locey) mentioned that their quarterbacks coach may be leaving and asked if I had an interest, and I said, 'Yeah,' Nagel said.

About a month later, Locey called again to tell Nagel that the position was open and that he didn't need to apply.

Jim is an outstanding person, no question, Locey said. He's a legend who's proven, and he's good with people, so we're excited about his vast experience and sure think he's going to bring a lot to our program.

As an added bonus, Nagel's daughter will be starting school at Linfield in the fall.

The Wildcats finished the 2003 season as the No. 3-ranked team in the country. They may be even better in 2004, as they go for their first national title since 1986.

Nagel will coach against the Raiders for the first time on Oct. 16, when SOU travels to McMinnville for what could be a crucial game in the Raiders' playoff drive. The Wildcats have handed the Raiders two straight heartbreaking defeats, including last season's 47-42 barnburner at Raider Stadium.

It's going to be interesting because I'm going to look across the field and see a whole lot of coaches I know real well, Nagel said. I'm looking forward to it.

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456.