It's a stretch to say that Brian Schottenheimer wouldn't be here
today without Dick Vermeil. But it was, in fact, Vermeil who gave
Schotteneheimer his start in coaching 15 years ago.
"I used to broadcast the Kansas City Chiefs' preseason games, and
I would always go to their training camps and spend three or four
days," Vermeil said. "I always spent a lot of time with Brian
getting to know him as a kid when he was deciding what he wanted to
do in high school, going to college, and everything else. But he
always knew he wanted to be a football coach."
Vermeil stayed in touch with young Schottenheimer as he finished
his high school playing career at Blue Valley High in suburban
Kansas City, then played quarterback in college at Kansas and
Florida. So when Vermeil returned to coaching with the Rams in 1997
after a 14-year hiatus, he placed a phone call to Marty
Schottenheimer, who coached the Chiefs for a decade from 1989-98.
"And I said, 'Can I take your son? I'd love to bring him in and
break him into my program,' " Vermeil said.
Marty gave his approval, and fresh out of college, son Brian
joined Vermeil's first Rams staff with the entry level job of
"I had such respect and admiration for Brian, and I know where
his passion was," Vermeil said. "Of course I had great respect for
his dad. I wanted to surround myself with those kinds of people, and
help 'em grow and help our whole coaching staff grow. Because I had
an older staff, and you can develop young people to come on up and
take over it."
Not only did Vermeil have an older staff, he had a legendary
staff. Vermeil and assistants Bud Carson, Jim Hanifan, Frank Gansz,
Mike White, Jerry Rhome and Dick Coury averaged 61 years of age in
'97. They were known variously as the Over the Hill Gang, the
Magnificent Seven, or Dickie V's Dream Team.
Enter young Schottenheimer, age 23 at the time.
"I think I would've been in awe if I hadn't been around coaching
my whole life," said Schottenheimer, who was a ballboy when his dad
coached in Cleveland, and then graduated to holding his dad's
headset cords during games in Kansas City.
But that staff in St. Louis was something else.
"You've got these legendary coaches," Schottenheimer said. "I
mean to sit there and listen to Bud Carson put in a 'fire zone' is
something I'll remember the rest of my life. But more importantly, I
remember how great those guys all were to me - a young coach wanting
to break in. They got it, and they went out of their way to help me
and to give me some insight."
Schottenheimer soaked up everything he could from that astute
"He worked with everybody on the offensive staff," Vermeil
recalled. "He worked with Jerry Rhome and myself. He helped out
wherever he could. But we had him work more specifically with the
Picture that: Schottenheimer working with "Pretty" Tony Banks.
Schottenheimer, now a ripe old 38, doesn't remember a ton about that
"Except I didn't sleep very much," he said. "Doing breakdowns of
games, running the scout team, doing the (practice) cards, things
like that. Whatever they needed, I had to do. All the getting meals
and food, and just kind of being a gofer. But it's the only way to
do it, and if you want to learn this business you have to start in
The following season, Schottenheimer joined his father's staff in
Kansas City. Five more coaching stops followed, and now he's come
full circle, back at Rams Park as offensive coordinator on Jeff
Fisher's first Rams staff. Fisher considered other candidates, but
Schottenheimer was his first choice.
During the hiring process, Fisher liked Schottenheimer's
communication skills, his offensive philosophy and his background.
"His offense is multiple, and probably the most important is his
experience," Fisher said. …