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.

2015-12-EdLamb-corrected
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.

 

NFL DRAFT: THERE WAS A DARNOLD AT REDLANDS A FEW YEARS BACK

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

Mike Darnold, as I remember, was a soft-spoken, seemed-to-recall type of player who blended right into his college football team.

An offensive lineman. I want to say he was a right tackle.

In those days, the mid-1980s, the head coach at the University of Redlands was Ken Miller, who has a nice Redlands Connection resume of his own – a Bulldog play-calling specialist when he returned to the Bulldogs as an assistant. That came before a brilliant career in the Canadian Football League in Toronto, Montreal and Saskatchewan.

As for Mike Darnold, a spot playing offensive line for a small college team in out-of-the-way Redlands was certainly not a pre-signal to raising a son that would turn heads in both college football and the 2018 NFL draft.

That son is Sam Darnold. USC. Heisman Trophy candidate. Possible No. 1 NFL draft choice. A legend, perhaps, in the making.

Mike, Sam Darnold (Photo courtesy of Triton Football).
Former University of Redlands player, Mike Darnold, left, stands next to his son, Sam Darnold, who is holding an award from the Triton Football Club. (Photo courtesy of the Triton Football Club.)

You can never tell. Quarterback John Fouch, a Redlands High School product who took off for Arizona State in 1976, transferred back to his small-town university. He played Bulldog football for two years. A few decades later, his shotgun-throwing son, Ronnie, turned up at Washington and, later, Indiana State.

I always thought John was one of the greatest local athletes I’d ever seen. Track/football’s Patrick Johnson (Super Bowl, Baltimore Ravens, soccer’s Landon Donovan (Olympics, World Cup, European and USA pro soccer) and Heather Aldama, football’s Kylie Fitts and Chris Polk, plus softball’s Savannah Jaquish, to name a few, were among some of the others.

Ronnie Fouch tried hard – got into a couple NFL pre-season camps – but he never found that desired roster spot.

Mike Darnold’s kid did, though.

Boy, Sam turned up the heat in playing QB from his Orange County prep spot – San Clemente High School.

Instead of a career playing small-college teams from Whittier, Claremont-Mudd, Azusa-Pacific and La Verne, which were the stops on Mike’s playing career schedule for Redlands, his son was playing the likes of UCLA, Penn State, Notre Dame and teams from Arizona, Washington, Colorado and Oregon.

“Some have asked about Mike,” said current Bulldog coach Mike Maynard, “but he was before my time.”

Which is fairly hard to believe since Maynard arrived in 1988 – that’s 30 years!

It was Miller who recruited Mike Darnold to Redlands.

Miller, who assisted Maynard until leaving Redlands in 2000 after a brilliant career as a Bulldog offensive and defensive play-caller, turned the Canadian Football League on its ear. He led the Saskatchewan Rough Riders to 2009 and 2010 Grey Cup championships. Miller distinguished himself in so many ways while also working for Toronto and Montreal.

Mike Darnold, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound blocker, came from Dana Hills High School, another high school from the O.C. These days, he’s a foreman for a gas company. He’s done plumbing.

After Redlands, he went off and got married to Chris, who played volleyball at Long Beach City.

 

Their older daughter, Franki, was good enough to play volleyball at University of Rhode Island.

It’s an athletic family.

A former Bulldog hero, Brian De Roo, who made it to the NFL, said he rented out his Redlands home on nearby Campus St. to Darnold, among others.

“They lived at my home,” he said, “the summer after they had all graduated. They were working on the grounds crew and needed a place to lay their heads.”

De Roo tried to contact Mike Darnold on his son’s good fortune, “and say congrats … he’s pretty private!”

Redlands, during Mike Darnold’s day, was scrambling to rebuild a football empire. Budgets had crumbled on campus. Women’s athletics were crawling into the scene. Instead of acquiring their own budgets – coaches, assistants, all the necessary expenses for various teams – athletic money was split instead of doubled.

Miller had no fulltime assistant coaches. Plus, he was asked to coach the baseball team. Recruiting two major sports? Please.

Miller did land a couple of major college transfers – lineman Tom Gianelli from UCLA and fullback Scott Napier from Nebraska, where he was teammates with future NFL great Roger Craig.

It wasn’t enough.

Mike Darnold played alongside some good players, but Occidental College wore down everyone during the 1980s. While he was never an all-conference player, it’s hard to land players onto those elite post-season teams when your own team finishes, say, 0-9.

Over a decade after Mike Darnold left Redlands, Sam Darnold was born.