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Barnes joins elite group as TSSAA Hall of Famer

Barnes joins elite group as TSSAA Hall of Famer
Messenger Sports Editor
Randy Barnes enjoys a special status as the winningest football coach in Union City High School history.
He’s about to be included in another elite fraternity.
Barnes, who led the Tornadoes to 191 victories and winning seasons in 20 of his 21 years as head coach, has been named to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
Currently the head of football operations at the University of Tennessee at Martin after retiring from public education in 2002, the 56-year-old Barnes will join nine other inductees to be likewise honored for their outstanding achievements to TSSAA member schools.
The prestigious accolade is the latest to be bestowed upon the Ripley native, who also is a member of the Union City Hall of Honors and UTM’s Hall of Fame. He is most recognized, though, as the face for a Tornado football program that enjoyed unprecedented success under his guidance.
“I’m humbled to be included among such a great group of many of my coaching peers,” Barnes told The Messenger Tuesday. “I’ve always admired so many of those coaches and administrators who are already in the Hall of Fame, some of whom I coached against.
“I think it’s a great reflection on our school, our community and the resources we have here even to be considered for such an honor. I always just tried to work hard, do things the right way and things just sort of fell into place for me. There are surely others who are as deserving as I am.”
Barnes, who was a three-year letterman at UT Martin, came to UCHS from Houston County in 1975 as an assistant to Larry Shanks and served in a variety of roles before and after taking over the head football post in 1981. He also coached basketball, baseball and track at one juncture or another and also held the titles of athletic director and assistant principal during his tenure at Union City.
It was his direction of the Tornado football program, however, that gained both him and the school widespread respect and notoriety.
Three times (1992, ’97 and 2000) he led the Purple and Gold to undefeated regular seasons. Two of those clubs (’97 and 2000) advanced all the way to the Class 2A state finals before losing last-second heartbreaking decisions to Chattanooga Tyner and Alcoa, respectively. The two UC teams between those two championship game appearances (’98 and ’99) were stopped just one step short of the title tilt in the semifinals.
The 1990s decade was indeed one of prominence for the Twisters and Barnes as the program won 102 games over that 10-year span and was considered a perennial 2A state power. In all, Union City teams made postseason appearances in 18 of his 21 seasons and won eight regional championships.
Barnes’ all-time record was 191-58, a winning percentage of .767 and he was 12 times honored as either the district or regional coach of the year.
He was quick to share his Hall of Fame glory with those intregal to his success. “Obviously, it starts at home with my wife Sharon and my kids, David and Anna Laura,” Barnes said when reeling off a thank-you list. “My high school coach, Maurice Kelly, made it to the Hall of Fame and was important to me in my younger years, and I owe a special debt of gratitude to Larry Shanks, who brought me here. And there were so many of my assistant coaches — like Barry Duncan and Bobby Williams — and they are so much a part of this honor.
“We’ve had such a good media following, too, with The Messenger and its great coverage of Union City sports and all the radio broadcasts, too. You guys were so important in publicizing our program and our kids and getting the news of our successes out to people outside of just our area.”
Barnes was also active in the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association for several years and twice coached in the Tennessee-Kentucky All Star game. In addition to his current capacity at UTM, he also remains involved in several civic and community organizations in Union City.
“I always tried, when I was coaching, and still do try to stay involved in the community,” he said. “I think that’s so important, and I think it’s a way to give back to the people who’ve been supportive of you, professionally and otherwise.
“Coaching is a lot more than just calling plays. I’ve always said that I didn’t care if kids liked me or not when they were in school, but I wanted them to like me when they were 25 because of something they may’ve learned from being involved with our program.”
The TSSAA Hall of Fame was established in 1981 and will include 210 members with this year’s 10-person induction. Candidates must be at least 50 years old and have been retired for three years or have been out of the particular sport they are nominated in for three years. A secret selection committee makes HOF selections based on nominations from TSSAA school people and officials.
This year’s induction ceremony will be held March 15 at 11 a.m. in the James Union Building on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Sports editor Mike Hutchens may be contacted by e-mail at
Published in The Messenger 1.16.08

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