As a youth coach, there is no better feeling than being able to be able to coach a team that your kid is on. But you realize, if your little athletes goes on to play post-youth ball, they will eventually play for someone else. This led me to think about which high-profile football coaches (in both the NFL and NCAA) I would want my kid to play for today.

This is focused on the sport of football for three main reasons. The first is that is the sport I coach him in. Second, it’s the sport of the season. Lastly, it’s the sport my son loves the most right now.

In today’s modern era of professional and high-profile college sports, the head coaches are very prominent figures. Their press conferences are posted to social media. Furthermore, their demeanor is constantly evaluated,, as the press formulate an opinion as to whether or not they are doing a good job.

“Put Me In, Coach!”

So, what do I look for when thinking about who I’d want my son to play for? Well, in this hypothetical scenario, it is important to note that I am selecting a coach, and not a team. Then, it boils down to attitude. These coaches seem to have an attitude that goes way beyond winning. There’s an empathy to their approach. They carry themselves as unique individuals first, and then as a coach. This then leads their locker room to do the same. Lastly, each of them has bet on themselves, and some point had to have the unwavering belief that they would be great at what they do. They never quit on their dreams or their teams.

I have never met any of these coaches. In addition, none of them coach the team I cheer for. They simply inspire me with how they go about their craft and inspire their players.

Here are the four football coaches I’d want my kid to play for.

  • Dan Campbell - Detroit Lions

    After the Lions beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head coach Dan Campbell stood at the team locker room door and congratulated each player on his team as they entered. A hand shake, a hug, a slap on the shoulder pads, or a “great job, man” was issued to each member of the squad. This sentiment is nothing new for Campbell. He’s a player’s coach; he relates to his players. Why? Because he was one. Campbell played tight end in the NFL for the Giants, Cowboys, Lions, and Saints before becoming a coach. Campbell makes sure his players know two things before they take the field. That he believes in them, and that he has their backs. Furthermore, Campbell always exemplifies gratitude for his moments. He knows what it’s like to fail and get back up. In 2015, Campbell was named the interim head coach of the Dolphins. He was not retained. Now, he has the Lions in the playoffs.


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  • Dan Lanning - University of Oregon

    From a NFL Dan to a college football Dan. Yes, the Oregon Ducks lost heartbreakers to the University of Washington Huskies this past season. Yes, you can argue Lanning had some interesting calls in those games. In response, Lanning said, “I think this game is 100% on me,” he said.” He took responsibility and held himself accountable, which is what he expects of his players. A coach who has the confidence to show his or her leadership while simultaneously recognizing the responsibility that comes with such a title, is someone you want your kids to look up to. Speaking of kids, Lanning had to move countless times until he earned his Oregon head coaching job. He too, failed more than once, but believed in himself to get back up without having a plan B. Even when his kids were babies, he bet on himself to keep going after his dream instead of taking a paycheck outside of coaching. 


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  • Mike McDaniel - Miami Dolphins

    If you want an example of overcoming adversity and defying the odds, Mike McDaniel is a pretty great example. As a young kid obsessed with the Denver Broncos, McDaniel used to ride his bike to their training camp. One day he lost his hat and then met the team assistant, Gary McCune, who felt bad for this kid who was so upset. This led to McDaniel eventually becoming a ballboy. At 22, he was a coaching intern for the Broncos. Over the next 17 years, he would do every odd job possible as an NFL assistant. He got fired a few times, successfully completed rehab, and lost a Super Bowl. McDaniel never stopped grinding, even when he’d frequently get called the “IT guy” due to his smaller size. He didn’t look like a NFL coach, and he had his own style. This is what has led to McDaniel’s success with the Miami Dolphins. His players love playing for him, just as much as he loved coaching for them. He also gets to the office at 3 am.


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  • Kalen DeBoer - University of Washington

    I am staying in the Pacific Northwest for my college choices here. However, it’s a non-football related story that made me take to Coach DeBoer, who led the Huskies to the championship. Prior to the Oregon game, the Huskies star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. partnered with a local artist named Keegan Hall. Together, they signed prints of Hall’s incredible drawing of Penix Jr. They sold 200 of them and donated every dollar earned to a local charity. Coach DeBoer was involved in this effort, showing a high level of support. Then, Hall shared a story where DeBoer went out of his way, while on the field during the Oregon game to express his sincere interest in what Hall and Penix Jr. had accomplished. “Without a doubt, @kalendeboer has been incredibly successful on the field but, in my opinion, it’s what he does off the field that enables that success,” Hall said, telling the story in an Instagram post. This type of authentic human-element is something you can’t teach. DeBoer has shown he cares about the person, and the impact, not just the football player.


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