Drew Tate’s coaching career has started, and he is his typical fired-up self about it.
The former Iowa quarterback recently began work at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. The Chanticleers have transitioned into the FBS for football, in the Sun Belt Conference. They will be bowl-eligible if they win enough games this season.
Tate’s job? Defensive analyst.
“I never had to defend (bleep),” Tate said by phone last week from Myrtle Beach. “I always thought the best defense was scoring a touchdown.”
But you walk through the doors you can open, and Tate helped open one this spring when he interviewed at Coastal to become an offensive analyst.
“I hadn’t heard back from them in 2 1/2, three weeks,” he said. “My wife and I started thinking I better consider another move. But then I got a call from them asking if I wanted to be a defensive analyst. I jumped on it.
“I always remembered Chuck Long got his first coaching job at Iowa as a defensive backs coach. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz told me that, and gave me the idea way back that it would be awesome to be a defensive coach. I always felt I had the heart of a defensive player, but I threw the ball decently enough to be a quarterback.”
Tate played at Iowa from 2003 to 2006, the last three seasons as the Hawkeyes’ starting quarterback. He was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2004, the same season that ended with his last-second, game-winning touchdown bomb to Warren Holloway in the Capital One Bowl.
He retired as a player last February after spending 11 years in the Canadian Football League, on teams in Regina, Calgary and Ottawa. He played in 147 games and started 15. His pair of 1-yard first-half touchdown runs were the only TDs the Calgary Stampeders scored in their 2014 Grey Cup victory.
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“I’m 33 years old,” Tate said. “I was making good money the last five or six years.”
But he was ready to coach instead of play. His body had taken enough battering. Over the years in Canada, he had a broken shoulder and a blown-out elbow. He suffered a broken wrist and a concussion in the same playoff game.
“You had to accept it and move on if you wanted to hang around,” said Tate.
He says he loved the quality of life in Canada. It’s where he met his wife-to-be, who was a flight attendant from Nova Scotia. Now they’re living in South Carolina, where he has a job that will pay $10,000 for the year with no insurance while she waits to get a green card. And they’re very happy.
“We got lucky,” Tate said. “I was very, very lucky to get a job that quickly.
“In pro football, everything is a one-year term. There are a lot of different agendas in the building, and it’s just football only. The CFL is about plays. College football has depth. To me, college football is all about the players. That’s why I love it the most.”
Tate sought out Coastal without ever having stepped foot in South Carolina.
“I’ve always researched those football coaches who didn’t do football all their lives and became very successful,” he said. “I heard about Joe Moglia here. He’s a billionaire with a ‘B.’ He did whatever (he was the CEO and is the chairman of the board) at TD Ameritrade, and left it to be an unpaid volunteer at Nebraska for Bo Pelini, working 20-hour days.”
Moglia became the head coach at Coastal in 2012. His five-year record is 51-15. He was the Eddie Robinson Award-winner in 2015 as the FCS’s coach of the year. He missed last season for medical reasons, but is back for 2018.
“I read about him in Sports Illustrated,” said Tate. “He came up with BAM, Be a Man. He trademarked that. BAM means living with the consequences of your actions, standing on your own two feet, treating people with respect.”
Moglia hired Tate in large part to bring a quarterback’s perspective to his defensive coaches. This is where the next phase of the former Hawkeye’s football life begins, and he sounds like he has found nirvana.
“It’s going to be a hell of an experience,” he said.
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“With all that knowledge I got from my dad (Dick Olin, a longtime successful high school coach in Texas), Coach Ferentz, and what I experienced in Canada, it would be crime in a moral sense if I did something else but coach. Because I believe I have so much to offer young players.”
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