REDLANDS COACHING CONNECTIONS STRETCHES INTO NFL, CFL AND NCAA

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open and the Olympics, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

It might seem easy to ignore the football rumblings at the University of Redlands, an NCAA Division 3 program that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, nor plays in such places as Tuscaloosa, South Bend or the Los Angeles Coliseum, or attracts ESPN College Game Day staff during their Big Game against, say, Whittier College.

Ignoring them, however, would be a mistake.

Check the sidelines for the guys that have coached at Redlands. Some major careers have been launched.

Mike Maynard, the Bulldogs’ head coach since 1988, might be responsible for priming these guys.

It’s underscored by a recent move of former Bulldog defensive coordinator Ed Lamb (1998-2000 at Redlands), who left as Southern Utah University’s head coach in Cedar City to take the assistant head coaching job at Brigham Young University – about four hours north on I-15.

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Ed Lamb spent two seasons as University of Redlands defensive coordinator before moving on to bigger programs, currently as assistant head coach at Brigham Young University (photo by Southern Utah University).

Maynard, not exactly shockingly, refers to most of his assistant coaches with words and phrases like “tireless worker,” “intuitive,” “patient,” “demanding,” “great communicator,” “structured and thorough,” “relentless drive,” “relates well to players,” and “passion for excellence” – the usual high praise.

At Redlands, they got plenty of training in recruiting, game-planning, scouting and going through rigorous preparations – not to mention the games.

Lamb didn’t just show up at SUU before plopping up to Provo. One of his first stops after Redlands was landing a coaching gig at the Univ. San Diego with Jim Harbaugh as head coach. It’s the same Harbaugh who led the 49ers to the 2012 Super Bowl while later surfacing at Michigan.

Longtime Bulldog coach Ken Miller, who left Redlands in 2000, the onetime Bulldog and Yucaipa High head coach (way back in the 1970s), retired after helping coach two Canadian Football League teams – Saskatchewan Rough Riders and Toronto Argonauts – win three Grey Cup championships.

MIller and Trestman admire Grey Cup
Montreal head coach Marc Trestman, left, and Saskatchewan coach Ken Miller, right, admire the Grey Cup, which is emblematic of the Canadian Football League championship. It was the night before the 2009 Grey Cup championship game (photo by Saskatchewan Rough Riders).

He didn’t stay retired long. Miller’s now working for the CFL Montreal Alouettes.

Since Greg Hudson left Redlands (1991-92), he was defensive coordinator at Purdue, Minnesota, assistant head coach at national powerhouse Florida State (Jimbo Fisher, head coach) and a former defensive assistant coach at Notre Dame when legendary Lou Holtz was top man.

Greg Hudson with ECU ... photo credit Pirate Radio 1250
Since leaving Redlands in the early 1990s, Greg Hudson has coached at such places as Florida State, Notre Dame, Purdue and Minnesota (photo by Wikipedia).

“Best recruiter,” said Maynard, referring to Hudson, “anywhere.”

Ejiro Evero (2010 at Redlands) surfaced as a quality control coach with the Green Bay Packers after spending five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

That included the 2012 season, the year when S.F. played in the Super Bowl. The onetime Bulldog assistant came to Los Angeles last season to coach the Rams’ safeties.

Keith Carter (2007-2008 at Redlands) showed up as a line coach with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2017, he helped construct a line that blocked for QB Matt Ryan in the Falcons’ quest for a Super Bowl championship.

Keith Carter ... AARON FREEMAN
Keith Carter, another of the growing list of ex-University of Redlands assistant coaches that have moved on, is shown here during his days at San Jose State. Currently, he’s running backs coach for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans (photo by San Jose State).

Carter’s the grandson, incidentally, of NFL Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti. These days, Carter’s coaching running backs with the Tennessee Titans – after 13 seasons.

If a question about why Redlands was unable to retain such coaching talent, well, just think about it.

There are no major radio or TV contracts, no network deals, no huge sponsorships that rain in major dollars in the Bulldog football world. No, Maynard got these guys when they were trying to make their football bones, hoping to learn the coaching craft in an environment created for teaching and coaching.

Their “pay,” was largely a two-year assistanceship while they got their Masters degrees, coaching on the side. Maynard grabbed them when the price was right. He lost them when they got good enough to get better paying jobs.

Note the fact that most coaches’ stays lasted two seasons – the normal amount of time needed to get a Masters degree.

Part of “grabbing” those guys is this: Handfuls of applicants come in each year seeking a spot. Maynard, who looks awfully impressive in casting these guys, has to sift through all applicants.

There are former Bulldog assistants having shown up at Colorado, Virginia, Miami, Brigham Young, Arkansas State, Northern Arizona, Univ. San Diego, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Southern University, plus the Ivy League – and the NFL.

Garret Tujague (1996-97 at Redlands), an offensive line coach at Brigham Young University left Provo to follow Bronco Mendenhall upon taking the head coaching position at Virginia.

On Tujague, said Maynard, “is the kind of guy that is fired up when he’s sleeping.”

Even a partial list of the “connections” that these onetime Redlands assistant coaches have made is staggering.

Names like Holtz and Fisher, Harbaugh and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, Sean McVey and Wade Phillips in Los Angeles, an NFL Hall of Famer like Marchetti, plus coaching an offensive line that protected Ryan en route to a Super Bowl.

Those were multiple Redlands connections.

 

PART 1 – REDLANDS IN THE SUPER BOWL

Redlands Connection is a concoction of sports memories emanating from a city that once numbered less than 20,000 people. From the Super Bowl to the World Series, from the World Cup to golf’s U.S. Open, plus NCAA Final Four connections, Tour de France cycling, major tennis, NBA and a little NHL, aquatics and quite a bit more, the sparkling little city that sits around halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs on Interstate 10 has its share of sports connections. – Obrey Brown

Patrick Johnson, who caught a pass in Super Bowl XX, nearly made a diving catch for a touchdown in that same game against the New York Giants.

Jim Weatherwax, who played in the fabled Ice Bowl game against Dallas, had a hand in helping Green Bay win its first two Super Bowl titles.

Brian Billick basked in the glow of his name joining names like Landry and Shula, Noll and Parcells, Walsh and Gibbs on the Lombardi Trophy. Curiously, eventual five-time Lombardi Trophy celebrant Bill Belichick would join that list after Billick.

Welcome to the Redlands Connection-Super Bowl edition. That trio of former Redlands football players – Johnson (1994 graduate), Weatherwax (1961) and Billick (1972) – has surfaced in America’s greatest sporting spectacle.

It’s easy to break it down, too. Johnson’s speed. Weatherwax’s strength. Billick’s brains. It culminated with a spot in pro football immortality.

Johnson’s path to the Super Bowl might have been the shortest. He graduated from Redlands in 1994, committed to the University of Oregon and was selected in the second round of the 1998 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

Weatherwax left Redlands after graduating in 1961, headed for Cal State Los Angeles before transferring to West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas before Green Bay selected him in the 11th round of the 1965 draft.

Billick’s path took him to the Air Force Academy, eventually transferring to Brigham Young University. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but his career wasn’t on the playing field. He coached in Redlands, San Diego, Logan, Utah, and Palo Alto (Stanford) before surfacing as an assistant coach for Denny Green in Minnesota. By 1999, Billick was head coach of the Ravens.

It almost seems like pro football didn’t exist before 1967. That was the year when the National Football League champion played the American Football League champion for professional football’s world title. It was a first.

In the seven years since the AFL had been developed, the league held its own championship. The Houston Oilers, Dallas Texans (future Kansas City Chiefs), San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills had won AFL titles.

NFL titles during that same span mostly went to Green Bay (1961-62, ’65) with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns also winning pre-Super Bowl championships in those years.

SUPER BOWL ERA BEGINS

By the 1966 season, with 1967 showcasing the first AFL-NFL title game, the Super Bowl era was born.

In fact, Super Bowl terminology had yet to become adopted. The game was billed simply as the AFL-NFL Championship Game.

Green Bay going up against Kansas City was quite a spectacle.

It was the AFL’s best team going up against the NFL’s best. Vince Lombardi’s Packers playing Hank Stram’s Chiefs.

Redlands had a representative right in the middle of that package. It was none other than Weatherwax, known to his friends back in Redlands as “Waxie.”

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Redlands’ Jim Weatherwax of the Green Bay Packers. (Journal Sentinel file photo, 1966)

Weatherwax, for his part, played plenty in the second half of both games. He was seen spelling starters Ron Kostelnik and Henry Jordan on a few plays in the first half of Super Bowl II.

That particular game had been set up by the famous Ice Bowl game of 1967. That NFL Championship showdown came down to Bart Starr’s last-second quarterback sneak for a touchdown that beat the Dallas Cowboys on the “frozen tundra” of Green Bay.

That play hinged on the blocks of Packers’ center Ken Bowman and guard Jerry Kramer, who blocked Cowboys’ defensive tackle Jethro Pugh. That play, that win ultimately led the Packers into the second Super Bowl, this one against Oakland in Miami.

Pugh, incidentally, was picked in that 1966 NFL draft five players ahead of Weatherwax in the 11th round.

Green Bay, of course, won both championship games. The Packers, thus, set NFL history in virtual stone.

“That (second Super Bowl) was Lombardi’s last game,” said Weatherwax. “You should’ve heard the guys before the game, Kramer in particular. ‘Let’s win it for the old man.’ That’s what he was saying. Looking back, you couldn’t do anything but think that was special.”

Vince_lombardi_bart_starr Photo credit unkown
Legendary Green Bay Packers’ coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr are pictured. Redlands’ Jim Weatherwax was Starr’s teammate in Green Bay’s 1967 and 1968 Super Bowl championships. (Photo by Green Bay Packers)

AFL, NFL TACTICS LED TO MERGER

It was that first Super Bowl, however, that proved itself worthy of attention.

There was bitterness between the two leagues. The AFL started in 1960. Hopes were to provide enough competition that the old NFL would be forced to allow AFL teams into the NFL hierarchy.

When the NFL’s New York Giants signed Buffalo Bills’ placekicker Pete Gogolak in 1965 – thus stealing the first player from the AFL – the war between the two leagues was on. Finally, after much negotiation, many tactics, various shenanigans, the two leagues would be consolidated into one. The AFL forced the NFL’s hand.

They called it the AFL-NFL merger.

Some of those bitter feelings were on display in the Jan. 15, 1967 Super Bowl. Played at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The quarterbacks: Bart Starr against Lenny Dawson.

The coaches: Lombardi against Stram.

The referees: Six overall, including three from the AFL and three from the NFL, including head referee Norm Schachter, who started his officiating career 26 years earlier when he started his teaching career in Redlands.

The networks: The AFL’s NBC would be telecasting against the NFL’s CBS. Jim Simpson was on the radio.

Tough talk: Part of that first Super Bowl was the chatter emanating from the mouth of Chiefs’ defensive back Fred Williamson. Who could forget Williamson, who had a future in the movies?

Known as “The Hammer” for his vicious hits, Williamson boasted that his severe forearm shiver into the helmets of Packers’ receivers would knock them from the game. It was part of the well-hyped buildup, perhaps part of that bitter feeling between the two leagues.

As the game played out, it was “The Hammer” who was carried from the Coliseum field.

Weatherwax, meanwhile, was playing behind the likes of Willie Davis and Bob Brown, Kostelnik and Jordan – Green Bay’s legendary defensive linemen.

The Redlander gave a short chuckle as “The Hammer.” Weatherwax said, “I can’t really say what happened out there.”

Translation: He knew what happened, all right.

Kostelnik chasing Garrett (Photo by WordPress.com)
Kansas City’s Mike Garrett, 21 with ball, is being chased by Green Bay defensive tackle Ron Kostelnik during the first-ever championship game between the National Football League champion Packers and the American Football League champion Chiefs. Photo by WordPress.com)

Part of the legend: Starr’s 37-yard TD pass to Max McGee, the first touchdown in Super Bowl history, was followed by Green Bay’s kickoff to the Chiefs. When Packers’ placekicker Don Chandler sent his kick in the direction of Kansas City’s Mike Garrett, it was Weatherwax who drove the onetime college Heisman Trophy winner out of bounds.

Credited with a tackle. In the Super Bowl.

There were a few times that Weatherwax, part owner of restaurant in Orange County, later moving to Colorado, sat next to my desk. He’d shown up visiting old friends. Part of those visits included stopping by the Daily Facts. This dates back to the 1980s and 1990s. Sharing stories. Sharing memories. Showing off his championship jewelry. Great guy. Helpful. Willing to talk.

It was a huge part of a Redlands Connection.

Part 2 – About Super Bowl XXXV tomorrow.