Small school, big impact
CLU coaching tree branches out in every directionOctober 2, 2013
Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli has a point to make during the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard over the summer. Marinelli, a 1972 graduate of Cal Lutheran, has 37 years of coaching experience, including 17 in the NFL.
Photo: Anthony Plascencia, Ventura County Star
Pete Alamar hears it frequently during his travels.
The Stanford special teams coordinator could be attending a coaching convention, working a camp or on a recruiting trip.
Invariably, Alamar will be introduced to another coach with the accompanying tagline, “He’s a Cal Lu guy.”
“It’s amazing the number of guys you meet or hear about that are from Cal Lutheran,” said Alamar, a 1983 graduate of the university. “It might be a small school, but it has a pretty large coaching tree. A bunch of guys are doing a lot of really cool things in coaching.”
Miami University in Ohio has been given the nickname “The Cradle of Coaches” for its rich lineage, but Cal Lutheran could be the Division III equivalent.
For a university with a current enrollment of only 4,205, Cal Lutheran has produced a large number of coaches who have reached the highest levels of football.
At least 10 Cal Lutheran graduates are coaching at major Division I programs or are members of NFL staffs this season.
Countless other graduates are coaching at Division II, Division III, NAIA, junior college and high school programs across the country.
“It is a very competitive business, and to see our guys represent the violet and gold at such high levels gives you a lot of pride,” said CLU head coach Ben McEnroe, a 1993 CLU graduate. “I watch them on Saturdays and Sundays and pull for their teams because you feel like you have a vested interest. They are your guys and you want them to be successful.”
McEnroe had to remain neutral on Saturday night when fourth-ranked Ohio State played No. 23 Wisconsin.
The Big Ten Conference showdown pitted Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman against Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
Herman graduated from CLU in 1997 and Aranda graduated in 1999.
Herman actually hosted Aranda on Aranda’s recruiting visit, and the two have remained close friends.
“I would always call Tom and ask him about things because I knew he was going to be at the forefront of the offensive trends,” Aranda said. “I knew he was going to be studying it and know the ins and outs of everything. He was always my go-to guy for information. We don’t have those talks as much anymore, but I have always respected him for the help.”
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer described Herman as “one of the bright young minds in college football” when he hired the MENSA member away from Iowa State last season.
Herman’s love for college football developed while he was playing at CLU. He considered entering broadcasting after he graduated, but decided right before his final semester to try coaching.
“I figured this would be something that would keep me close to the game,” said Herman, a Simi Valley High graduate. “I was not good enough to play professionally, but I didn’t want to lose that feel of being in a locker room and the camaraderie of a team. I figured I would give it a shot at a young age, and if I didn’t like it I could always jump ship and go into the real word.”