The 2013 season is just around the corner with the San Diego Chargers holding their first training camp practice on July 25th. On the precipice of a new season, we decided to take a look back at a feature we published earlier this year getting to know the new Chargers coaches. Here is part one of the series dedicated to head coach Mike McCoy.
The San Diego Chargers made a major splash when they announced Mike McCoy as the 15th head coach in team history.
McCoy was considered the hottest candidate on the market, and pundits are declaring his hire to be a major coup for the Bolts as they usher in a new era of Chargers football in 2013.
But just who is Mike McCoy?
Known as one of the brightest, most innovative minds in the game today, the Chargers new head coach also possesses a deep passion for the game of football.
McCoy started playing sports when he was five years old in his hometown of Novato, California in the shadow of San Francisco by playing pee wee baseball in a league that his older brother snuck him into so he could play with those a few years older than him. When McCoy turned eight-years old, he was finally old enough to play football, but once again he played with his brother and those a few years older than him. His football career started at running back but it didn’t take long for him to make the move to quarterback which for the rest of his playing career, save one year in middle school, was where he stayed put.
McCoy grew up rooting for the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a 49ers fan in the 1980s. He switched allegiances mostly due to his affinity for Joe Montana.
“I got smart enough to figure out the game of football when Montana was playing,” he said. “Before that, the Cowboys were America’s Team. I loved to watch them. They were good. But as I grew up and watched football and learned the way the game should be played, I loved the way Montana played. With the success the 49ers had with Montana and Jerry Rice winning Super Bowls and doing things the right away, I loved that. We also grew up near Candlestick Park and went to the games every Sunday as kids. My grandfather and my uncle were the head of the event staff out there for the people at the gates collecting the tickets, so we were out there every Sunday eight games a year. So as I got older and got smarter I loved the way they played and began to follow them.”
So was there any Joe Montana in McCoy’s style of play at the position?
“Absolutely not,” he laughed. “I wish there was. Maybe I could have played a little bit more!”
Collegiately, McCoy played quarterback at Long Beach State from 1990-91 and then transferred to the University of Utah from 1992-95. It was with the Utes that he created one of his more lasting memories.
“One of my best memories was when I was at Utah and we won the Freedom Bowl,” he said with a smile. “I threw a last minute touchdown pass to get the win. I won’t ever forget that.”
After finishing his playing career in Calgary in 1999, McCoy made the switch to coaching a year later in 2000, joining the Carolina Panthers as an offensive assistant. After just one month he was promoted to quarterbacks coach, and he would go on to serve as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator over his tenure in Carolina. When asked what sticks out in his mind about his time with the Panthers, McCoy was quick with his answer.
“Getting to the Super Bowl,” he said. “That’s something I’ll never forget.”
In 2009, McCoy left Carolina to become the Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator, a role he thrived in up until he accepted the Chargers position as head coach.
McCoy cares deeply about the game of football, but it doesn’t come close to his number one passion; his family. McCoy and his wife Kellie have two kids, Olivia and Luke.
“I met Kellie in downtown Salt Lake City,” he said. “The rest as they say is history. She is a full-time mom and we are lucky to have her. She is great. Olivia is big into cheering competition. Luke is a big sports fan. He plays both basketball and football, but basketball is his true passion.”
Listening to McCoy speak, it becomes crystal clear that family is very important to him.
“That’s the way I was raised,” he said. “My mother and father have been divorced for a while, but the way I grew up was that the more, the merrier. That’s just the way it was. We had a very close knit group of friends, and a lot of them, and we always did everything as families. It might be 30 or 40 people at a dinner or a party or playing youth sports back then, they were always around. We always hung out together. I have great memories of things like going to Straw Hat Pizza after a baseball game because we won. A couple times a week we were always out and about doing things like that together. That’s the way I was raised.”
Multiple times, McCoy has said he plans to incorporate those family values into the Chargers organization. How does he plan to do that?
“I think there are a number of ways you can do that,” he said. “Whether it’s in the offseason and the OTA’s where you do things at night together. Really just talking to the players about doing things together. In training camp, we may have some family days where we invite the families here. We’ll have an open door policy with the families to be around whenever they want. I mean, obviously there is a time and a place for that. Our number one goal is to win a World Championship and we will do everything in our power to do that. But understand, for the families that are involved and the kids, they have a role in this too. We welcome them with open arms and we will get to know everybody. It will be a great experience.”
McCoy says that he spends the vast majority of his time either with his family or in the office, but he does have some hobbies that he enjoys.
“I love fishing,” he said. “Last year my son and I were in Florida on vacation and we hooked into a six-foot tiger shark. That was fun. But really I enjoy any kind of fishing. And I play golf every once in a while. I love the game of golf. My father was a great golfer and he still is. I have a hard time finding time for it though. It’s a matter of if I want to spend six or seven hours on the course instead of at the office or with my family. So I don’t play it that much.”
One thing for certain is that McCoy is looking forward to embracing all San Diego has to offer.
“From what I can tell it’s a great city,” he said. “The people have been great and I’m excited to get to know it. There looks to be a lot of great things to do around here as a family, so I look forward to getting them out here, getting situated and doing some fun things.”
Speaking about the city, McCoy is also pleased to see the fans excitement as the team embarks on this new era for the franchise. For him personally, he is grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to capitalizing on it.
“It’s a great opportunity for all of us,” McCoy said. “Coming into a great organization like the San Diego Chargers, the Spanos family and the way they do it, it’s a dream come true. Especially coming from northern California, seeing the great history and tradition here, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I’m planning on making the most of it.”