While Head Coach Anthony Lynn’s staff is expected to remain largely intact heading into 2018, the Chargers did need to hire a new tight ends coach after John McNulty left to become the offensive coordinator at Rutgers.
The answer on who to turn to was cut and dry.
With over 40 years of coaching experience under his belt, Lynn knew Rip Scherer was the right man for the job. On Tuesday, the team officially announced his addition to the coaching staff.
“We’re very happy to add Rip to our staff,” Lynn said. “When I worked with him before, he helped me tremendously. He’s a former head coach in college, and he’s been an assistant coach in this league for a while. I think the experience he brings to the table is a really good mix with the young coaches we have on our staff. I want to keep a combination of experience and youth with the coaches, and he fits the mold. He can help us win, and that is the main reason why he is here. To help us win.”
Scherer’s resume speaks for itself.
In addition to his time as a head coach, including stints at James Madison University from 1991-94 and Memphis from 1995-2000, he’s had success in both the NFL and college ranks. Scherer most recently spent the past five years at UCLA, including the last two as the team’s Senior Associate Head Coach/Tight Ends.
Now he takes the short journey down the coast to Hoag Performance Center.
There can sometimes be a transition period when joining a staff comprised of those who’ve already spent a significant amount of time together. However, Scherer is uniquely positioned to hit the ground running as he already boasts deep ties to many on the staff.
In fact, there are eight different coaches on the Chargers’ staff that Scherer has a prior relationship with, including Lynn.
“It’s really exciting to be part of this organization, especially given where the team is right now,” Scherer said. “It’s doubly exciting because it’s an opportunity to work with Anthony, who I’ve known for 10 years now. We formed a professional and personal relationship and friendship coaching together with the Cleveland Browns. We’ve remained close throughout these years. Our sons were roommates in college for four years at Penn State. So we go way back a lot of different ways.”
Perhaps the most remarkable connection is with Ken Whisenhunt. Scherer actually coached Whiz when he was a quarterback at Georgia Tech in the early 80s before he transitioned to a tight end.
“I was the quarterbacks coach when Ken was a quarterback his first year at Georgia Tech,” he said. “It’s a 180-degree role reversal now. It’s the twists and turns of this business. He was an outstanding player, and he transitioned from being a quarterback to a tight end. He was really smart. He was savvy. So we’ve gone full circle.”
The close ties Scherer boasts with the coaches is also why he paid particular attention to the team in 2017.
“I did because I had so many friends here. I obviously didn’t live and die with it as much as the coaches here, but I did to some degree because of my personal attachment and wanting to see these guys be successful. It was difficult early, but then it was really great to see the transition and turn around. I think it’s a testament to Coach Lynn with the way the players hung in there with him, and the way he kept them competing every week at a high level. That’s not easy to do at this level especially when you’re a first year head coach. So it’s a testament to his credibility in the building and in the locker room to turn it around dramatically.”
The majority of Scherer’s career has come coaching quarterbacks. However, he’s enjoyed leading tight ends the last few years for very good reasons.
“Prior to coaching tight ends at UCLA, I’d been a quarterbacks coach most of my life,” he said. “I think next to the quarterback position, tight end is the most comprehensive position on the field. You’re involved in everything. You’re involved in the pass game from a protection and a receiving standpoint. You’re involved in the run game. And as quarterbacks coach in the NFL, I always taught that the quarterback’s best friend is the tight end.”
While Scherer has only just begun delving into his new role, it didn’t take him long to know he has a special pupil in Hunter Henry.
“I’ve just been watching tape here the last couple days, and he’s an exciting player to have an opportunity to work with,” he said. “Obviously he has all the tools. From what I understand, he’s as good or better a person even than as a player. He obviously has a tremendous upside. I hear his work ethic, attitude and everything is off the charts. So that makes it even better when you come in and have an outstanding, ascending young player who still has that kind of attitude.”
So, what can Henry and the rest of the tight ends expect from their new coach?
“I think you go through different phases as a coach. I was a hollerer and a screamer when I was younger. Ken can probably attest to that! I think sometimes when people see a guy who has been coaching as long as I have, they assume that you are more laid back. I still coach with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I pride myself in being really hands on. I’m a perfectionist to a fault. I grew up with my dad, a high school coach, and his mantra was to strive for perfection and you may reach excellence. So I’ve kind of carried that to coaching, thinking it’s never good enough so you push your players to be the best they can be. That’s my responsibility. At the end of every day, I’ve been hired to help the guys I’m responsible for be better that day than they were the day before. That’s my responsibility.”