At 82, Jack Carlisle is still 'a miracle worker'

Posted on: April 03,2013

This will surprise nobody who knows Hall of Famer Jack Carlisle. At 82, he’s back on the football field doing what he does best.
“He’s a miracle worker,” says Mississippi College head coach Norman Joseph. “Use that as your headline. Jack Carlisle is a miracle worker.”
Carlisle, who was out of coaching for the first time in 60 years last fall, coaches the placekickers and punters at Mississippi College this spring.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Joseph says of Carlisle. “I can’t tell you how much our kickers and punters have improved in just eight or nine practices with Coach Carlisle.”
Joseph said he was conducting a staff meeting a month ago. The conversation turned to special teams and one of Joseph’s assistant coaches piped in: “You know, Jack Carlisle might be available. So I called him.”
Carlisle was reluctant at first, Joseph says.
“He said it would cut into his fishing time,” Joseph says, chuckling. “He said he was fishing every day.”
“I told him, Coach, we really need you,” Joseph continues. “You can fit it into your schedule.”
Normally, a head coach might worry about how an 82-year-old, old-school coach might relate to 19- and 20-year-olds.
“Kickers are like golfers or quarterbacks,” Joseph says. “They can get into a funk and it’s usually mental. Jack is so good at that part of it. He gets ’em to work on their fundamentals and their technique and the results have been obvious.
“What’s amazing to me is that he never raises his voice.”
That would really be amazing to some of Carlisle’s former high school player at Murrah and Prep, who love to tell the stories about how tough and vocal Carlisle was back in the day.
Carlisle is one of the most successful high school coaches in Mississippi history. He also coached as an assistant coach at Ole Miss and was the head coach at East Tennessee State where he mentored highly successful Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith.
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum was packed to capacity for the Jack Carlisle Roast last October when many of Carlisle’s former players told stories about his coaching style.
“These days, they’d arrest him for some of that stuff he did to us,” said former Ole Miss standout Skip Jernigan, who played for Carlisle at Murrah.
Carlisle says he has enjoyed being back in his natural habitat, which is 100 yards long and 53.3 yards wide.
“I enjoy it,” Carlisle says. “Heck, it’s something I’ve done for over 60 years. Coaching is kind of like breathing to me.”
Carlisle coached Jim Miller, the great Ole Miss punter, during his days at Ole Miss.
“First day, I tossed Jim the ball and told him to punt it,” Carlisle says, chuckling. “He kicked it about 60 yards with a 5-second hangtime. So here’s how I coached Jim Miller: I told him to keep doing what he was doing. Different guys, you coach different ways.”
The late P.W. Underwood, another Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, understood that. At USM, Underwood coached Hall of Famer Ray Guy. Well, he sort of coached him. Underwood told his assistant coaches, “The first one of you SOBs who tries to tell Ray Guy how to kick is fired!”
Says Carlisle, laughing, “With Ray Guy, that’s what I would have said, too.”

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