Taffi out, Roussel back at Riverside

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The athletic landscape at Riverside Academy continues to shift in drastic ways.

Rebels head football coach Tim Taffi was relieved of his duties by the school early this week and will be replaced by his predecessor, longtime Riverside coach Mickey Roussel, who will come out of retirement.

“The administration has relieved Coach Tim Taffi of his duties at Riverside Academy so that he may pursue other opportunities,” said Riverside athletic director Timmy Byrd in a statement released by the school. “We appreciate his years of service to our school, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Taffi completed his first season as the team’s coach in 2008. He piloted Riverside to a 4-6 record and a fourth place finish in District 10-2A. The Rebels fell in the first round of the playoffs to No. 7 seeded Many, 36-12.

Before that, he spent 11 years coaching under Roussel, 10 as the team’s defensive coordinator.

Taffi said that the situation arose after the school had learned he was looking into a potential job offer at another school.

“I was definitely listening, and I was definitely interested,” said Taffi. “It was a nice pay raise, a public school, a retirement plan. I have a family, and it’s something I had to consider. I think I’d be crazy not to do that. But I hadn’t interviewed for it or anything like that.

“Still, Riverside was apparently angry about the situation, and here we are.”

Taffi said that while he listened to the overtures, he had not actively been looking to leave Riverside.

“I love Riverside,” Taffi said. “I have no ill will toward anyone there. I still wish them all the best, especially the kids, because this affects them the most. It really didn’t have to be this way, but this is what was done.

Byrd mirrored Taffi’s regret over the situation.

“On a personal level, Tim was a very good coach, a good guy, and he’s in high demand,” said Byrd. “We know he’ll do well wherever he ends up. I’m disappointed, and I know our football family is disappointed. But we have to move on.”

Taffi said he felt he had to at least take into account his future.

“I’m 40 right now. And I have to consider what my life will be like when I’m 60. I felt like I owed it to my family to at least consider every possible angle,” he said.

A familiar name and face to Rebel fans to say the least, Roussel returns to a perch that he sat upon for 19 years, captaining the Rebels to state championship game appearances in 1993, 1998 and 2000. His career record at Riverside stands at 171-66. Only once — in 2003 — did a Roussel coached team fail to make the postseason.

He retired after the 2007 season, citing the physical toll that the job took on him. But after a year of recharging his batteries, he was ready to coach as an assistant this season. Instead, he steps into the head role.

He called the situation “bittersweet”, given the circumstances around his return. Still, he looks forward to the opportunity.

“I didn’t expect it,” said Roussel. “I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m a Riverside person, and I have been all my life. I get to fill a spot where I know most of these kids already, and I’ve coached with the guys on our staff.

“I have to say I’m feeling pretty excited to say the least. The year off let me see things from a different perspective.”

Said Byrd: “He’s healthy and highly energized after a year off. I know he’s looking forward to bring the program to where he’s had it in years past.”