KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was an offensive line coach for the Missouri Tigers from 1989-91, he was part of perhaps the most star-studded coaching staff in Missouri football history.
Bob Stull, then the Tigers head coach, had five assistants who later went on to be head coaches or assistants in the NFL. They were:
• Reid, who was an assistant with the Green Bay Packers before becoming the Philadelphia Eagles head coach for 14 years.
• Ken Flajole, who was Stull’s defensive backs coach, was the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams and now is secondary coach for the Saints.
• Dirk Koetter, who also interviewed for the Chiefs head coaching job, was Stull’s quarterbacks coach and now is offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
• Marty Mornhinweg, who was Stull’s tight ends coach, was Reid’s offensive coordinator with the Eagles after having been the Detroit Lions head coach.
• And Dave Toub, who was Stull’s strength and conditioning coach, has been the special teams coach for the Chicago Bears.
The inside joke among Tigers fans, though, is that with all that coaching talent, no one stepped forward to save Missouri from its infamous fifth-down game loss to Colorado back in 1990.
“Guess we were all pretty dumb back then,” Stull told FOXSportsKansasCity.com with a laugh. “We got much smarter later in our careers.”
That game became one of the most controversial in college football history, and unfortunately remains the legacy of that famed staff.
Stull has never blamed his assistants, though, for not reacting more quickly to the bizarre events that unfolded in Colorado’s last-second 33-31 victory over the Tigers then.
“Well, you certainly can’t blame Andy,” Stull said. “We had our defense on the field, so it’s not like he would have been in my ear anyway.”
And truthfully, Missouri’s coaches did know, or strongly suspect, that Colorado had used an extra down.
“There was a lot of discussion, a lot of yelling about it on the sideline,” Stull said. “But the down marker guy, who was a Missouri guy, didn’t see an extra down. The linesman standing next to him didn’t see an extra down and the head referee didn’t see an extra down. We had no replay back then so there wasn’t much you could do.
“We just had to go ahead and try to stop them, which we did. Their quarterback (Charles Johnson) never made it in the end zone on that fifth down. We stopped him short, his progress was stopped, and we had photos of it.
“But seriously, our coaches were on it. That was a heckuva staff.”
Reid actually came to Missouri with Stull from the University of Texas-El Paso, where Stull had coached for three seasons and where Stull is now the athletic director.
“We hired him because Dirk Koetter had known him when they worked together at San Francisco State,” Stull said. “We were looking for an offensive line coach and Dirk recommended him. He told me he was a good guy and that they had worked hard together at a rather small program there. He said they used to sell donuts together to raise money for the program.”
Stull recalls being immediately impressed with Reid, who had played offensive line at Brigham Young.
“He was very committed to the job,” Stull said. “As I watched him, I could tell he was a great teacher of the game. He was tough and hard, but he also could laugh. He had a great sense of humor. I’m not sure people often see that.
“But he was the type of guy that would not get on you as long as you knew your assignment and put forth the effort. But if you made mental mistakes, he didn’t have much patience for that. He could let you have it, but not in a demeaning way. He didn’t believe in demeaning his players, and I think that’s one of the reasons he became so successful.”
Reid eventually left Missouri and Stull in 1992 to become an offensive assistant coach for Mike Holmgren with the Packers.
“People always ask me if I knew all these guys would end up in the NFL,” Stull said. “And it’s really a pretty tough question because it takes more than just skill at the coaching level to move to the NFL. You need some breaks along with your skill.
“It just so happened that when Holmgren got the job with the Packers, he remembered Andy from BYU.”
When Holmgren was the quarterbacks coach at BYU in 1982, Reid was a young grad assistant.
“The thing is, you have that connection just for one year,” Stull said. “But Andy obviously made such a great impression on Holmgren that it stuck, even 10 years later. That’s how you get ahead.
“And Andy proved everyone right because he has been a great head coach.”
Stull said he still keeps in touch with Reid, and the two text and call on occasion.
“We had a surprise birthday party for his 50th at his home in San Diego a few years ago,” Stull said. “I was at that. And we’ve kept in contact when things come up.
“When I heard he might be interviewing for the Arizona job – his wife, Tammy, is from Phoenix – I texted him that he better bring plenty of sunscreen. But then he texted me back right away and said he was going to talk to the Chiefs before he did anything with Arizona.
“And then the next thing he texted me was that he was going to skip Arizona, and that it was going to be Kansas City. I’m happy for him. And I think the Chiefs got a really great coach and a great person.”