By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
It's the Miami without the orange and green attitude.
For some, it's the true Miami ─Miami University of Oxford, Ohio.
Unlike its namesake in Florida, Miami (Ohio) dwells on the lower rung of Division I-A football in the Mid-American Conference of the Midwest. Often confused with the other Miami, the Redskins are simply proud of their heritage.
Miami University may not boast a Top 25 team every year, but it does have a different tradition ─ a slew of legendary coaches have had their starts at that university. Miami (Ohio) has gotten the distinct reputation as "The Cradle of the Coaches."
Eight national Coach of the Year recipients spent time there, including Woody Hayes (Ohio State), Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame) and Bo Schembechler (Michigan). A few Miami graduates have also gone on to success, such as current Indiana coach Bill Mallory and former Cleveland Browns coach and owner Paul Brown. Former Dodger manager Walter Alston was also a Miami graduate.
In 1962, a 24-year-old graduate assistant first began his career as a college football coach while working with Miami's freshman team. His name was Dick Tomey.
"I had just applied for graduate school and asked them if I could come over and coach for nothing," Tomey says. "Then I went over to coach for nothing and then the next year I got a graduate assistantship."
Tomey was an assistant coach for the freshman team for two years. Even though it was a minor position, it was a start.
"It was a real learning experience," he says. "I didn't know much at the time. I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to coach."
The varsity coaches would work double duty and serve as the freshman head coach and Tomey would
do anything else they asked of him.
"I just helped out in any way I could, in all phases," he says. "I did a lot of go-fer type work for them."
Schembechler, the legendary Michigan football coach, began a stint at Miami in 1963 and served as an early inspiration for the young Tomey.
"He was a good person to learn from," Tomey says. "You always knew where you stood, that's the thing I like about him. You never were uncertain where you stood."
Tomey is not even the only coach with ties to Arizona who passed through Miami's halls. Larry Smith, Tomey's predecessor and the current Missouri coach, was Schembechler's defensive end coach at Miami from 1967-68, his first college job as well. Former UA assistant and current Texas Tech athletic director Bob Bockrath graduated from Miami.
These days, Miami wouldn't appear to serve such a historic role to college football. But in 105 years of football, the Redskins are 15th in winning percentage (.633) and 25th in total wins (546) of all 107 Division I-A schools.
Miami has struggled this season. The Redskins (0-2) were beaten 35-14 by Mallory's Hoosiers last week and will take on Cincinnati (0-2) tomorrow, the second oldest college football rivalry which started in 1888. Miami has the discouraging task of facing another Big Ten foe next week, Michigan State, before beginning the MAC schedule against opponents like Akron, Bowling Green and Ball State (best known for alum David Letterman).
The Cradle of the Coaches may be looking for a new one soon if Miami alum Randy Walker doesn't turn the team around in his fifth season. Walker would no doubt like to suit up to help his team out since the Redskins were 32-1-1 during his four years playing there, ending in '76 but are 21-22-3 with him at the helm.
So why would a team competing in a conference the Big Ten likes to schedule for easy wins and a team Sports Illustrated listed as 92nd in its preseason poll, serve as the training ground for such legends through the years?
"I think there's just been a lot of tradition there over the years in football and I think people that have been interested in coaching have gone there," Tomey offers. "For a time, there were so many people that were very successful in the profession that went to Miami and there are still a lot. But not as many as there were at one time."
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