By CRAIG REMSBURG
For The Daily News
ISHPEMING - He's considered by many to be one of the best high school varsity head football coaches in the Upper Peninsula.
Now, Jeff Olson of Ishpeming High School has decided to give the school's top basketball program a try.
A 1981 Marquette High School graduate who guided IHS to the 2012 MHSAA state Division 7 football title, Olson was hired Monday to take the reins of the Hematites' varsity boys basketball team.
Olson replaces John Tiziani, who resigned in April after posting a 40-24 record in three seasons at IHS.
"I was approached by a lot of people who tried to talk me into the (basketball) job," Olson said. "I've coached a lot of these kids at the freshman and junior varsity levels and they're great kids.
"They know what I want and expect from them.
"It's going to be difficult coaching basketball after the football season," he added, "but I'm hoping it will be a little less stressful with the kids who I'll be coaching."
Many of his 2013-14 basketball players will have played on this fall's IHS football team.
"Right from football, they'll have to get into basketball shape," said Olson, who has guided the Hematites to the football playoffs for 11 straight seasons and 13 of the last 14. "But I think it will work out."
IHS athletic director Terry Roberts, who said there were five candidates for the coaching job, said hiring Olson is a "win-win for all of us."
"He knows the kids real well and being a teacher on our staff, that was a key factor. It's nice to have a coach who sees the kids in class, as well as in the athletic arena," Roberts said.
"Another big factor is he has been coaching in our basketball program for 16 years at the freshman and JV levels. He's highly respected by the players and they like him.
"When Jeff showed interest in the position and applied, we were very happy he would be our coach." he added. "This was a perfect situation and he'll do a great job."
An All-Upper Peninsula basketball point guard at MSHS who still holds the school record for assists in a season (161 in 1980-81), Olson has been influenced by former MSHS coaches Mike Mileski in football and Gordy LeDuc in basketball.
"As a basketball coach, I'll be similar to what I am in football," he said, adding he'll choose an assistant coach later this summer. "We'll be fundamentally sound and play good defense by moving our feet.
"We won't be too fancy, but we'll be as good as we can in what we do."
In 21 years as the Hematites' varsity head football coach, Olson has compiled a 144-78 record. Twice in the past three seasons, he has taken his team to the state title game.