Saints coaches have ties to Miami – Ohio, that is

Bret Ingalls believes there’s something cosmic about playing

this Super Bowl in Miami.

Some 1,100 miles away, in the frosty North, folks at Miami

University would agree.

Six members of the New Orleans Saints staff, including head

coach Sean Payton and five of his assistants, each made it to this

championship game after a stopover at the Oxford, Ohio, school,

dubbed the “Cradle of Coaches.”

Payton says it’s no accident that it worked out this way.

“You have experiences at certain schools,” said Payton, a

RedHawks assistant in 1994 and 1995. “You pay attention to certain

coaches that you felt you’d like to work with again someday. …

When you have background and you know exactly what you were

getting, that’s pretty valuable.”

Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and head strength and

conditioning coach Dan Dalrymple both played and coached for the

RedHawks, with Dalrymple enshrined in the school’s Hall of Fame.

Ingalls, now New Orleans’ running backs coach, was at Miami U as an

offensive assistant in 2005. Strength assistant Charles Byrd was a

graduate assistant at Miami in 2007, and assistant special teams

coach Mike Mallory is the son of former RedHawks coach Bill

Mallory.

Turns out, there’s a lot more to Miami U’s football lineage than

being the school where the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger

played college ball.

“I’ve said this before,” Payton said. “I’ve got a great

group.”

Considering Oxford is about five miles from the Indiana state

line, there’s likely going to be some divided loyalties this week

with the Saints preparing to face the Indianapolis Colts.

Or maybe not.

“We’re all pulling for the Saints,” said James Carsey, Miami

University’s current strength and conditioning coach who’s worked

with several of the former RedHawks on the Saints’ staff. “I’ve

got one of my assistants, she’s from Indiana and all about the

Colts, but because of the connection we have with the Saints we all

want to see it happen.”

There are more wacky ties that bind:

Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson also coached at the

University of Miami, where New Orleans is practicing this week.

And, not only did Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown play for Miami

University more than 80 years ago, so did fellow Hall member Weeb

Ewbank, who coached the New York Jets to a Super Bowl championship

in – where else? – Miami.

“We all have history with each other,” Dalrymple said. “That

was one of the things when Sean put this staff together, same thing

with putting a team together. He looks at the best fit and the best

player. You can go out and get this All-Star collection for a

coaching staff, or you can get the right fit. There’s a lot of

ties.”

Payton was at Miami under coach Randy Walker, who led the

RedHawks for nine seasons before taking over at Northwestern. He

died of a heart attack in 2006.

Dalrymple says Walker is still considered part of the

Miami/Saints connection, noting that not all of Payton’s coaching

nuances come from another mentor, Bill Parcells.

Yes, the same Parcells who is now the football czar of the Miami

Dolphins.

“I never worked for coach Parcells, but I worked for coach

Walker,” Dalrymple said. “And Randy and Sean, they’re like the

same guy. I laugh all the time because I often hear Randy in the

things that Sean says. So it helps, because as a staff, you know

what to expect. We were all brought up in the same tribe, so to

speak.”