Coach Mike: Happy to be Middleton's man

After retiring from the NFL, Mike Williams knew exactly what he wanted to do. It was a dream of his before reaching the NFL. He wanted to coach. 

He's been doing it now for the last 10 years and this year he had many options. His bag were packed for a cushy high school job in California, but Williams felt a stronger calling: To stay home to help an inner-city school that's been hurting -- Middleton High School.

"I didn't think I was going to get it," Williams said with a smile.

Despite growing up in West Tampa, Williams was still somewhat of an outsider -- after all, he went to Plant -- but he knows the Middleton community. He knows the program's long struggles, which includes the recent tragic death of freshman player Hezekiah Walters.

"It's a difficult thing because it's such a sad thing," said Williams. "So you don't want to use it too often or bring it up too often because we are still dealing with young men, and the emotions can swing just like that."

Williams has always wanted to return to Tampa Bay to coach at the high school level. His decision to do it now comes at a needed time with a team that's healing. Williams has unfortunately had his own adversity to deal with -- his wife died just two years ago. 

"Life isn't fair," Williams continued. "Frankly, life isn't supposed to be fair. It's just kind supposed to be life. I just try to teach fortitude. We can't help what happens to us, but we can control how we dedicate ourselves moving forward." 

Williams had two great mentors to learn from, Robert Weiner at Plant and then Pete Carroll at USC and Seattle. But one big difference is Williams' fiery ability to capture players' attention. 

"I just wanted to come in and to make it about being better," said Williams. "Our thing around here is respect and community, and bring energy to football."

Williams knows he's facing a difficult challenge. Middleton has had just one winning season in the last dozen years, but that's why wanted this job. 

"You hear things before you take the job," he said. "You hear things before you come over and it couldn't be anything furthest from the truth from the kids that we have. All our kids are 'yes sir, no sir.' Our kids go to class. Middleton is a great school academically. We just had to create the culture to let them know that we're trying build a championship program here. It's going to take championship attitude and the right kind of people. I'm just excited about building it up because the talent is here."