How Mount Union became college football’s newest cradle of coaches

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He knew he couldn’t go back to Pitt for another season. The football program there had turned toxic. So Campbell packed up and left. He wasn’t far from his home near Canton when he first saw them by chance: about 60 young men, crossing the four-lane highway that flanks the campus of the University of Mount Union, headed for a workout at the stadium.

“It was a fascinating moment,” Campbell said. “Here’s where there are no scholarships, there is no money, there is no flash, but these guys love football.”

Campbell wanted in. He transferred to Mount Union and became an All-American defensive lineman. Then he entered coaching.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“It saved my life,” said Campbell, who is entering his third season as Iowa State’s coach. “That’s how passionate I am about my Mount Union experience and coach [Larry] Kehres. My life probably goes a whole different way if not for finding that place.”31

Campbell is among a growing group who found Mount Union as players and, after graduating, launched coaching careers. Mount Union claims two FBS head coaches in Campbell and Toledo’s Jason Candle, coordinators such as Ohio State’s Alex Grinch and Wake Forest’s Jay Sawvel, position coaches such as Michigan’s Ed Warinner, an NFL coordinator in the Indianapolis Colts’ Nick Sirianni and many others leading small-college and high school teams.

The school has long produced accomplished coaches — including former Carolina Panthers coach and longtime NFL assistant Dom Capers (class of 1971) and Ron Lynn, another longtime NFL assistant (class of 1966) — but the number has spiked in the past 15 years. Campbell and Candle, both 38, are among the 10 youngest FBS coaches. Grinch, 37, is one of the nation’s top coordinators. Sirianni just turned 37.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

How did a private, liberal arts school with an undergraduate enrollment of only 2,095 become football’s newest coaching cradle? It took a College Football Hall of Fame program patriarch too afraid to leave, 200-man rosters filled with “player-coaches” and a campus located in the garden spot for coaching.