Green Bay Coach's Game Plan Began In Kansas
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Green Bay's head coach Mike McCarthy grew up in Pittsburgh, and he's now trying to map out a plan to beat the team he once idolized. Greg Echlin has this profile.
GREG EICHLIN: Before the Green Bay Packers promoted Mike McCarthy five years ago, he had never been a head coach. But Dan Harris says that doesn't mean he was unprepared. Harris was an assistant coach when McCarthy played college football at tiny Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. Harris says even then, Mike McCarthy was a young man who knew the importance of laying out a plan.
DAN HARRIS: He was organized. He knew his direction and where he was going. And every decision he made, he consulted people, he thought it through, he looked at trends, at what people were doing, and he had a plan. And I think he stuck with that plan that got him where he is today.
EICHLIN: After the Packers beat the Chicago Bears to win the NFC Championship, McCarthy said he traced his coaching success to his days as a player at Baker.
MIKE MCCARTHY: When you took the field, you felt like you were the best prepared team, so those two years there we had two very good football teams.
EICHLIN: Gannon works as a TV sports commentator these days. He says McCarthy has the uncanny ability of seeing a football game through the eyes of a quarterback.
RICH GANNON: And I think Mike at that point was well on his way to being a very good one and, of course, in my opinion developed into one of the best play callers in the business.
EICHLIN: In Baldwin City, Kansas, Baker University students are getting a new education about Mike McCarthy. John Petty, a transfer student here from Las Vegas, is gingerly walking on the campus' icy sidewalk with two of his Vegas buddies. He signed a best wishes card posted in the school's cafeteria a few days ago, though he didn't know the story behind the Packers' head coach.
JOHN PETTY: I knew that he was their coach. I was like, ah, good luck. Why not? I didn't know he went to Baker, though.
EICHLIN: Petty and most of the other 900 students here have learned a lot more lately about the Packers' coach who graduated from Baker in 1986, before most of them were born. After McCarthy left Baker, he learned about defensive play from the coaching staff at Fort Hays State, another small Kansas college.
MCCARTHY: They gave us a lot of responsibilities as graduate assistants. That was a very good experience for me personally to coach defense.
EICHLIN: For NPR news, I'm Greg Echlin.
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