SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — From 1983-1985, Andy Reid got his coaching career started at Division II school, San Francisco State. The football program was discontinued but his coaching legacy still lives on.
Joe Lopiparo played under Andy Reid back in the mid-80s at Cox Stadium, where little remains as a reminder of the former Gators football program.
Lopiparo visits Reid anytime he’s nearby with his family at a hotel before a game. Despite being a defensive player, he hung out with the players Reid coached most, the offensive line, and not just for his wife’s meals:
“She would have a dinner weekly with the lineman. I got invited once.”
Lopiparo also spoke on the time when he ran into Reid at a hotel.
“The last coach out I saw was Reid, now I haven’t seen him in 10 years. I turned and said, ‘Hey Coach!’ And he said ‘Joe Lopiparo.'”
But when he stood on the same sidelines as the future head coach of the Chiefs, the players learned from Reid and Reid learned from his mentor, Vic Rowan.
“Vic Rowan was a great teacher of coaches, and he had this huge library of playbooks from every school. He’d call up a coach and go, ‘Hey, can I get your playbook?’ And guys would send him their playbooks,” Reid said.
No wonder Reid has such a vast knowledge of plays to run.
Gil Haskell, a retired Coach, Super Bowl winner, SFSU alum and coached with Andy Reid while he was in Green Bay, spoke on Reid’s playcalling ability.
“Now when I see his teams play on the goal line, you know they run that flip pass, damn near every week, well they had it back then and when we did it, we did it with Brett Farve and he’d just, wham. It would hit him right in the rear end. And Mike [Holmgren] would go, ‘Hey Andy and Gil, what the hell was that play?'” Haskell said.
“We’d play in these packed houses and he’d say, ‘Gil, remember State?'”
“He never used foul language, just like our head coach Vic Rowan, he never did that, they coached the way coaches should coach, they could actually host a clinic on how coaches could coach,” Lopiparo said.
Times were a little lean at the DII school, so Andy Reid would come to a patch of grass in front of the school gymnasium and sell hot dogs.
“What he learned from Coach Rowan: organization. They had one room, with four coaches in it and Coach Rowan, you know, you didn’t have your own office,” Haskell said.
“You had all this stuff you could look at, you could dive into. And he was great about teaching you, sharing with you his knowledge,” Reid said.
Reid learned to be good at many sports while at SFSU.
“He was a fabulous racquetball player. Really good, and if you didn’t get out of the way he hit you,” Haskell said.
He used the city known for it’s Golden Gate Bridge, as a gateway to being one of the most successful coaches in NFL history.
“He was a good coach then, and he paid attention to a lot of detail and, you know, coaching is a lot of breaks and the fact that he knew Coach Holmgren, who got him to Green Bay, had a lot to do with it. It’s who you know too,” Lopiparo said.
But never forgetting the former coaches he coached with and players he coached.
“It makes you proud because his roots are here and just being around him and getting to see him once in a while and talk to him, is awesome.”