Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs Every time you talk football with Bob Harris, the veteran coach admits he is leaning toward coming back for year No. 44.
It's hard not to smile after a conversation with the Hayden High School assistant football coach, who is a wealth of knowledge in things other than football, too.
Harris is old school. He tells it how it is. He doesn't sugarcoat.
In an era where coach-speak dominates sports pages, Harris is the exception.
He's candid, articulate, engaging and funny, but most of all, he's sincere.
It doesn't hurt that he's been tremendously successful on the sidelines.
If you attended Steamboat Springs or Hayden high schools during the past 40 years, there's a good chance you've run into Bob Harris. Some of you troublemakers may not like him from his stint as a principal, but no doubt most of the people who've come across him have nothing but respect for the man.
The first time I saw Harris, he oozed football coach. He was animated, looked mean and just had that stereotypical coaches face and gestures.
Harris has coached for 43 years in the Yampa Valley, and while he's undecided whether he'll go another year, it's not hard to see the impact he's made.
He helped former Steamboat coach Mark Drake put the Sailors on Colorado's football map. Now he's helping Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner do the same thing.
His knowledge of the game is unparalleled. During a 30-minute phone conversation with Harris on Friday, I learned even more about the game of football.
As a self-proclaimed expert, it's enjoyable to talk with Harris about football. He consistently reminds me that despite what I might think I know, I actually know very little about America's favorite sport.
As Hayden's defensive coordinator, Harris has made the Tigers defense the strength of the team. I found out all I needed to know about his coaching abilities in last year's first-round playoff game against Sargent. Harris, who calls the game from the sidelines, would wait to see the Sargent personnel before calling a defensive formation and play.
That day, Sargent scored exactly as many points as I did - zero.
Sure, Harris' success on the football field and in the classroom may get the accolades, but it's his longevity that makes him stand out.
It's been his ability to deal with different generations of players. From hippies to rockers to the hip-hop generation, Harris has always found a way to relate to his players.
Harris is the type of coach that schools and communities want to keep around.
So coach, here's to year No. 44. Please come back.
Heck, if you need any encouragement, I'm just a phone call away, waiting to talk football.