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What Inspired Dick Vermeil to Coach Football

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NFL coach Dick Vermeil was recently on our football history podcast.
He shared about one conversation that inspired him to set his sights on becoming a football coach.

Dick Vermeil’s Hometown

Dick Vermeil grew up in northern California in the small town of Calistoga. Winemaking is a big part of his family’s background, dating all the way back to his great grandfathers. You can learn more about that part of the story at VermeilWines.com. As for Coach Vermeil’s sports background, he says his high school football coach Bill Wood encouraged him to continue his football playing career beyond high school.

High School Football Coaches Make a Difference

During Vermeil’s senior year, a new football coach came to town to take over the head coaching job. This position was his first coaching job out of college. His name was Bill Wood. Vermeil recounts, “Halfway through the season, he told me he thought I could play college football if I wanted to, and no one had ever told me that before. And I was excited about that.”

Vermeil added that Coach Bill Wood inspired him to become a football coach. Coach Wood is an excellent example of a high school football coach having a tremendous impact on somebody’s life. He encouraged a teenaged Dick Vermeil to think about playing football at a collegiate level, which in turn inspired Vermeil in an academic sense because he hadn’t taken college prep courses. Vermeil attended a junior college to upgrade his academics. He later found himself playing college football at a D1 level and coaching high school football in Northern California.

Coach Vermeil’s Impressive Career

Vermeil made the 1956 and 1957 San Jose State Spartans rosters as a quarterback, but he still had his sights on a coaching career. He started coaching in the California high school ranks and ended up taking the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl in his fifth season as head coach. He also won the Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in only his third season as head coach.

Hear Coach Vermeil share about his high school coach Bill Wood and about his Super Bowl victory with the Rams on The Game Before the Money Podcast. He also gives the details about coaching the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1980 NFC Championship Game and the inside scoop about UCLA’s upset of Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl.

As a result of Coach Vermeil’s outstanding career, he was named the Coach Finalist to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2022 class.

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Be sure to enjoy our football oral history podcast! Most episodes feature legends of the American Football League, National Football League, and college football.

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