Rang resigned from Powell after one season after he was placed on administrative leave with pay following allegations of testing irregularities during an End of Course Algebra II test he was administering and that he left the class unattended during the testing. However, Sparks has no qualms about his new coach's character nor giving him a second chance.
"Derek has a long history of proving himself," Sparks said. "He comes highly recommended by coaching staffs at Maryville high school and college (where he played), at Knoxville West (where he was a defensive coordinator) and the folks that worked with him at Powell. To me that outweighs the fact that he made a mistake.
"I think the Lord works all that out in a way that he winds up at Carson-Newman and we're certainly glad he's here."
In his lone season at Powell, Rang guided the Panthers to a 12-2 record, an appearance in the Class 5A state semifinals and the number three ranking in the state. The Panthers rolled up 416 points and 5,247 yards of total offense under Rang's guidance.
"I'm thankful for Coach Sparks for giving me the opportunity," Rang said. "It supports the core values that I believe in. I'm just ready to help develop kids to be better men in the world today.
"Spiritually, this program isn't about wins and losses; it's about the growth of the individual. As they go on in their life path, I want to instill in them Christian principles that help them along the way."
Prior to Powell, Rang spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator at West where the Rebels notched back-to-back 11-3 records. His defenses forced 81 turnovers in a two-year span, including 43 in 2010, which ranks third all-time in the TSSAA record books.
"He has an openness to learn and grow that I really appreciate," Sparks said. "He knows he's got work to do and that makes me excited. He has a wonderful youthful enthusiasm that's really energizing."
Rang will work with a receiving corps that loses a key cog in Jason Brown, but returns leading receivers Steven Isom and Anthony Eubanks. Isom grabbed 21 balls for 317 yards while Eubanks had eight receptions for 139 yards. Both players averaged more than 15 yards a catch.
"They work hard," Rang said. "The receivers compete and finish. And we've got a good mix of some guys with some size, but also some elusiveness. I think it'll be a smooth transition."
The Eagles open their season Sept. 5 against Wayne State at 7 p.m.