Jeff Jarnigan enters his fifth season with the SaberCats in 2013.
Jarnigan led an offensive line unit that produced an NFL opportunity for Rich Ranglin (Kansas City Chiefs) and allowed just 20 sacks in 2012, which tied for fifth best in the league. Ranglin and Manny Akah were also both recognized by the AFL with All-Arena selections following the season. On special teams, the SaberCats converted six successful onside kicks, which tied for the most in the league (Utah and Orlando).
Jarnigan led a defense in 2011 that finished the season ranked eighth in the league against the run, surrendering just 21.8 yards per contest. Also, they finished sixth in holding opponents on third down at a 43.9% clip. On special teams, San Jose ranked fourth in the league on field goal returns (17.6 yards per return on eight returns) and eighth in kickoff returns (17.7 yards per return).
In his first season as a coordinator with the SaberCats in 2008, Jarnigan led a defense that finished in the top five in redzone defense (76.8%), interceptions (22), turnover margin (+12) and sacks (30). San Jose had four players named to the All-Arena team under Jarnigan; including linebackers Steve Watson and Clevan Thomas, defensive back Marquis Floyd and kicker A.J. Haglund.
Jarnigan served as the special teams/defensive line coach in his first year with San Jose and made an immediate impact with the player groupings he oversaw. Jarnigan resurrected a special teams unit that finished near the bottom of the league in every statistical category in 2006 and was an essential element to the SaberCats championship conquest in 2007. Under Jarnigan’s guidance, San Jose’s special teams finished with the second-best kickoff coveage in the AFL after giving up only 16.6 yards per return and two touchdowns, opposed to the 18.5 yards per return and seven touchdowns in 2006.
The defensive phase of special teams wasn’t the only side that transformed in 2007. After returning only one kickoff for a touchdown in 2006, Jarnigan helped his players boost that total to seven touchdowns in 2007 - tying the most in the AFL, while also equalling a team record set in 2003 and 2005. His kickoff return men proved to be the top tandem in the league after rookie Trestin George averaged 23.6 yards per return and Rodney Wright racked up another 22.9 yards per return.
Perhaps one of the most vital parts of special teams in the AFL is the kicking unit. Jarnigan is credited for bringing in All-AFL kicker A.J. Haglund who set league records for extra points made (128) and posted the third highest kick scoring total in AFL history with 158, topping his total with a 179 point effort in 2008. Haglund, who played for Jarnigan in arenafootball2, improved on the team’s 2006 point-after-try conversion percentage (.853) that was the 15th best in the league to second in 2007, hitting at a .928 clip.
Jarnigan also managed the SaberCats defensive line in 2007. His core group made up of Ron Jones, George Williams and Alan Harper combined for 19.0 sacks which was good for fourth-best in the league.
Jarnigan holds 22 years of football coaching experience under his belt, both professionally and in the collegiate ranks, including seven years in the indoor game. Prior to joining the SaberCats, Jarnigan spent the previous two seasons as head coach of af2’s Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz. His previous experience in the AFL comes from a one-year stint with the Austin Wranglers in 2004, the team’s inaugural season.
As the defensive coordinator in Austin, Jarnigan’s unit held opposing teams to fewer than 40 points in a game five times and ranked third in both sacks and opponents third down conversion rate. The team finished with a record of 8-8.
After his success with the Wranglers, Jarnigan was offered the head coaching position with the Yard Dawgz by co-owners Barry Switzer and Jeff Lund.
In Oklahoma City’s second year as an expansion franchise, Jarnigan led the team to a 10-6 record and its second berth in the af2’s playoffs. The team finished in a tie for first place in the Midwest Division with an 11-5 record in his first year.
Prior to joining the Wranglers, Jarnigan was the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach for the af2’s Tulsa Talons for three seasons (2001-03). He enjoyed a composite record of 44-10 (.814) while on the staff and captured two National Conference championships. The Talons won the ArenaCup in 2003.
Jarnigan’s extensive coaching experience began at Fort Hays State University (Kan.) as an offensive line coach in 1988. he transitioned to an assistant coaching position at Bethel College (Kan.) from 1989-92.
Jarnigan relocated to Sioux City, Iowa where he spent time as the defensive line coach for Morningside College (1993-94). Jarnigan’s longest coaching tenure occurred when he was the offensive line coach at Carleton College (Minn.) from 1995-99. His other head coaching experience came when he was with the Minnesota Purple Rage (2000) of the Indoor Football league.
As a player, Jarnigan was an all-conference offensive lineman and three-year starter at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan. In 1984, he helped the team finish the season ranked third in the nation after being defeated by eventual NAIA champion Northwestern in a semi-final playoff game.
An Oklahoma native and graduate of Midwest City High School, Coach Jarnigan and his wife Liz have three children; Mary, Jack and Emily.