When Coach dies, they are going to have on his tombstone: “If he only had a quarterback.”
That’s what late Dolphins tight end and radio analyst Jim Mandich would playfully tell people when asked about former NFL head coach and current FOX Sports analyst, Dave Wannstedt. The longtime coach spoke to a packed group of football fans in the locker room at Camping World Stadium on June 21.
The “Chalk Talk” Lunch was the first event of its kind for Florida Citrus Sports and it did not disappoint. As guests arrived they were led to the East Locker Room, the same locker room used by both winning teams last bowl season: Miami (Russell Athletic Bowl) and LSU (Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl). Once inside, members could walk around to find their locker, topped with their own nameplate like the ones the players have.
Following a brief meet-and-greet period with coach, attendees were able to grab food and find their spots before Coach began. Fans at the event were treated to a wide array of stories from Wannstedt’s days on the sidelines including his visits to Camping World Stadium to his time coaching Ricky Williams and against a young Tom Brady.
Coach told the crowd that after his Dolphins defeated the Patriots, 30-10, in Brady’s first career start on the road back in 2001, his defensive coordinator came up and asked him what he thought about the rookie quarterback.
“I said, ‘he’s just a guy’,” recalled Wannstedt. “That was the last time we beat him.”
Throughout the tales from his graduate assistant days in college to his coordinator and head coaching gigs in the pros, Wannstedt noted that it wasn’t always easy but he took the good with the bad every step along the way. He spoke of many life lessons he learned during his time in the game.
“It’s not the crisis that you’re dealing with right now that is going to determine the rest of your life, but how you deal with that crisis,” said Wannstedt. “How are you going to respond?”
Wannstedt noted that piece of wisdom which he learned from Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry whom he replaced as a member of Jimmy Johnson’s staff in Dallas.
“Can you imagine how pleasant that was,” Wannstedt joked. “Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson taking over the Cowboys. College coaches and we were 1-15 (in 1989, their first season) and we ran a legend [Landry] out.”
Coach concluded the lunch answering several questions from the audience, one of which happened to come from a former player of his when he was at the University of Pittsburgh. One thing was clear, Coach took nothing for granted during his time in the game and he still relishes every minute of it as shown by his busy schedule that sees him cover both college football and the NFL nationally for FOX Sports on the weekends as well as local shows during the week in the Chicago and Miami markets.
“There are a lot of great lessons in this game of football and I’m just honored to be part of it for a bunch of years.”