Miami adds McVay to prestigious plaza of coaching greats
By MIKE SMITH
Miami University's Cradle of Coaches Plaza added another resident Saturday with the unveiling of a Sean McVay statue.
McVay is the 10th coach to be immortalized in the plaza, joining Ara Parseghian, Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, John Harbaugh, John Pont, Carm Cozza, Bo Schebechler, Red Blaik and Paul Dietzel. All distinguished themselves in coaching at the collegiate or professional level. Some played at Miami. Some coached at the school. Some did both.
In McVay's case, he was a student-athlete who played on three MAC East Championship teams (2004, 2005, 2007). He graduated from Miami with a degree in health and sports studies (2008). His grandfather and uncle also lettered at MU.
The grandfather, John, carved out . . .
. . . a career in football -- first as a coach and then as NFL executive. As vice-president/director of football operations for the San Francisco 49ers, he presided over five Super-Bowl winning campaigns and was named Executive of the Year in 1989.
The McVay name was still familiar in pro circles, so once Sean decided to go into coaching himself, he was able to land a spot as an assistant wide receivers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009). It was the first of several stops on a quick rise marked by success. By 2010, he was with the Washington (now) Commanders -- moving from offensive assistant to tight ends coach to offensive coordinator.
It was from there that he was hired as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. The accomplishment was even more remarkable given that at 30 years old, he became the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He more than justified the hire by winning AP Coach of the Year honors in his first year with the Rams.
McVay's LA teams have gone 67-41 since he arrival and are 7-3 in post-season play. When the Rams beat Cincinnati in Super Bowl LVI in 2022, McVay became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl.
Addressing the media before the unveiling, McVay noted a number of Bengals fans shouted some "Who Dey's" his way while he and friends were revisiting some Oxford establishments the previous evening. "I'll take it. I'm glad people are pissed off at us for a couple years ago," he said, referring to the Rams Super Bowl win. However, he also noted, "I root for the Bengals, too, except when we play them. Zac Taylor does a good job there. Taylor was an assistant for McVay before taking the Bengals head coaching position.
While several poses were considered artist Kristen Visbal noted the final decision was to use a thoughtful pose that reflected McVay's analytic nature while coaching.
McVAY PRESSER INTRO
PRESS CONFERENCE NOTES
McVay met with reporters before the statue unveiling. Here are a few of his comments on a variety of questions/topics.
ON THE IMPACT OF HIS GRANDFATHER (JOHN), WHO DIED LAST OCTOBER, ON HIS CAREER
-- "He was such a great influence on me ... A lot of the things that I've gotten a chance to be able to do are a result of the legacy he set ... He always treated people so well. He was so good at what he did, but he had such a great humility. ... I don't think you'll ever meet somebody that didn't like John McVay."
"You talk about love and honor here (at Miami). He epitomized being able to love people, to develop and establish relationships that really are the only things that last. ... There is no chance I'd be standing here if it wasn't for the legacy that he set for our family ... and the way he treated people.
ON HIS GRANDFATHER AND THE STATUE UNVEILING
-- "I know that he is looking down and smiling."
ON WHY HE CHOSE TO BECOME A STUDENT-ATHLETE AT MIAMI
-- "I think one of the things (that) was enticing about coming here is the family legacy. I was a third generation player here. It was a great program -- really well-established."
-- "One of the things that I'll never forget is that when I came on my official visit -- whether it was the coaches or the players -- there was a consistency in terms (of the idea) that hard work pays off (and you need) perseverance through tough times."
ON DECIDING ABOUT HIS POST-GRADUATION FUTURE
-- I knew that I wanted to be in football after I finished playing. ... I didn't know if I wanted to coach or get into personnel, but I knew football was something I was passionate about."
VALUE OF TRUE FRIENDS
-- "You become the company that you keep. I was so fortunate to be around great guys (at Miami)."
VALUE OF MIAMI EXPERIENCE
-- "I know a huge part of a lot of good things that have occured in my life are a result of being here for the four years that I was. ... It's not a coincidence that so many people when they leave here go and thrive in what ever arena that they end up pursuing."
ADVICE FROM TERRY HOEPPNER, HIS FIRST COLLEGE COACH
-- "He always used to talk about, 'Have a plan, but also prepare for the unexpected.'"
WHAT GREAT LEADERS DO
-- "I think what great leaders do is they make every situation and every person they are around better."
-- "The best thing about coaching, or leading in general, is that it's not about you. It's about having that 'servant' mindset and mentality where you are trying to lead because you want to really elevate other people."
BRINGING THE VIBE
-- McVay said he sometimes checks his own problem-solving approach. "Did I bring the right vibe? Did I bring the right energy? Did I have a solution-oriented mindset and mentality. So often, when things don't go our way, there is a natural inclination to want to complain or feel like you are a victim."
-- "You always want to have that curious mindset and mentality where you're always trying to learn ... interesting people are interested."
-- "I believe you can get better, and you can get worse. You never stay the same. You're always trying to get better, even in those incremental steps."
-- McVay was impressed with Miami's facility improvements and also credited head coach Chuck Martin with doing a "great job."
-- "It's great to be back here. I love it. I'm blown away by everything that has gone on ... just seeing the facilities and seeing how many great things have gone on. It's outstanding, and I'm blown away."
"Oxford is a great setting. You talk about a college town that epitomizes ... good vibes."
FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS
"Anytime that you are able to get recognized, this is because of a team success that occured. I couldn't be more grateful for the coaches (and) the players ... That's what you love about football. It's the greatest team sport that there is."
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.