It's a step down in level of competition and media exposure. The crowds will be smaller, and ESPN GameDay won't be coming to the very southwestern corner of the commonwealth.
But Curt Newsome couldn't be happier to be going back. Eleven months after losing his job at Virginia Tech, and less than a month after his boss at James Madison was fired, Newsome has been named the head football coach at Emory and Henry.
It's a homecoming for the Peninsula native, who played for E&H and is a 1982 graduate.
"I couldn't be more excited," Newsome said Friday. "To be going back where I started, it's a great feeling. It's been something I wanted to do and I'm excited about getting started. I have such a passion for it and I realize how much the school affected my life.
"They've upgraded the facilities, and they're second to none in Division III. They really have a great atmosphere there on Saturday afternoons."
Newsome was a 190-pound defensive tackle — "quite the intimidating figure," he joked — at Emory and Henry from 1977 through '81. After graduation, he began his coaching career at nearby Ervinton High School in Dickenson County. He was an assistant for a year and then elevated to head coach.
A graduate of Phoebus High, Newsome is well-known on the Peninsula. He was the head coach at Kecoughtan from 1987-97 and led the Warriors to a pair of 11-win seasons. In '97, Kecoughtan was the state runner-up in the former Group AAA Division 6.
He then moved to Heritage for one season, where he went 9-1. After that, he was an assistant at James Madison for seven years, including the Dukes' Division I-AA national championship season in 2004, before being hired at Virginia Tech in 2006.
After the 2012 season, he was part of a staff overhaul at Tech and returned to Madison. But JMU coach Mickey Matthews was fired last month.
Newsome recognizes the challenge he faces at Emory and Henry, which as a D-III school cannot offer athletic scholarships.
"You've got to identify those with a passion to play football," Newsome said. "You have to have those guys to win. And you have to understand you'll have to recruit offensive linemen who are two inches too short or don't run the 40(-yard dash) time you want him to run.
"The number one goal is to recruit southwestern Virginia. Even though it's a private school, you've got to recruit your back yard first. And after that, there's no question we'll be in Richmond, Tidewater and Northern Virginia."
Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun