SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Blaze owner John Garff announced Wednesday the promotion of assistant coach Ron James to head coach. James will replace former Blaze coach Danny White, who resigned last week after going 21-30 in three seasons with the Blaze.
"Ron has been in our system, knows our expectations, and shares our vision of where we need to take our team. Ron has the confidence of the players, and with that we can make a seamless transition into the 2009 season," Garff said. "He is the perfect person for the position."
James, who just completed his second season with the Blaze as the Defensive Coordinator and Director of Player Personnel and 11th season in the Arena Football League, was the head coach of the Las Vegas Gladiators (now Cleveland Gladiators) for two seasons (2005, 2006). In 2005, his team led the AFL in total offense and team defense, and set 14 new offensive and defensive team records.
"I'm happy for the opportunity and I am excited to get working on the 2009 season," said James, a native of Albany, New York. "The sky is the limit for this organization and our first priority will be to sign current and new players and put a team on the field that will be exciting to watch, and it will be one that will take us further down the playoff path."
Prior to being named head coach of Las Vegas, James was the assistant head coach/OL/DL/Special Teams coach of the Gladiators for three seasons. Before joining the Gladiators, he was the line coach for the Houston ThunderBears and Director of Player Personnel from 1999-2001. He also was an assistant coach with the Albany Firebirds from 1990-91.
"We were impressed by the quantity and quality of the applicants for the position and were thorough in our due diligence in selecting a new head coach. We are confident that Ron possesses the qualities we are looking for and we have complete confidence in him to meet our goals and expectations in going forward. Ron is committed to the organization and the community, and will work diligently to build a championship-caliber team," Utah Blaze President Jason Jones said.
James coached a combined 14 years at the collegiate level. He was the assistant sprint football coach, offensive line coach and admissions support officer at Army in 1998 and 1999. Army captured two Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) rushing titles during his tenure, averaging more than 257 yards per game.
James spent five seasons at Kentucky Wesleyan College where he was the associate head coach for the final four years. James began his stay at Kentucky Wesleyan in 1993 as offensive coordinator. In 1994, James was promoted to associate head coach at Kentucky Wesleyan and was the defensive coordinator/secondary coach.
In 1992-93, he was the defensive coordinator/secondary coach at Hartwick College. From 1989-91, James was defensive coordinator/linebacker coach at St. Lawrence University. He began his coaching career in 1986 as a linebacker at Siena College (Albany, NY) and was the head coach of the JV team.
James was a four-year starter at offensive tackle at Siena College, an NCFA All-American First Team and two-time First-Team All-Conference selection. He also saw action at defensive tackle. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Siena and an MPA from Rockefeller College.
James and his wife, Lynn, have a son, Brady, and a daughter, Alexis. They reside in Davis County.
RON JAMES AFL COACHING HISTORY
2008 Utah Blaze Director of Player Personnel/Defensive line coach
2007 Utah Blaze Offensive/Defensive line coach
2005-06 Las Vegas Gladiators Head Coach
2002-04 Las Vegas Gladiators Assistant Head Coach/OL/DL/Special Teams
1999-01 Houston ThunderBears Director of Player Personnel/Line coach
1990-91 Albany Firebirds Assistant Coach
SOME INDIVIDUAL AND TEAM RECORDS SET UNDER JAMES IN LAS VEGAS
Most rushing yards in a game: 53 (2005)
Most rushing TDs in a game: 3 (four times, last in 2005)
Longest rush from scrimmage: 46 (2005)
Most touchdown passes in a game: 11 (2005)
Most sacks in a game: 3 (2005)
Most first downs in a game: 29 (twice, last done in 2005)
Most interceptions in a game: 4 (four times, last in 2005)
Most points scored in a half: 55 (2005)
Most net passing yards: 4,664 (2005)
Highest rushing average: 3.1 (2005)
Most passes attempted: 623 (2005)
Most passes completed: 405 (2005)
Most total net yards: 4,996 (2005)
Highest average yards per game: 312.2 (2005)