Shayne Graham Hired by Central Michigan

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Hokies great Shayne Graham announced Tuesday night that he has been hired as the Special Teams Quality Control Coordinator at Central Michigan.

Graham recently retired from the NFL after 15 seasons with 10 different teams. He played in the NFL from 2001-2015 but wasn’t on an NFL roster during the 2016 season. He made his retirement official in February of 2017, stepping away from pro football “the day after the Super Bowl,” he said in a brief phone interview from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where Central Michigan University is located.

“Time is undefeated, so of course, I knew the playing career would come to an end someday.”

He didn’t waste any time, landing a college job with the Chippewas mere weeks after ending his NFL career. Graham went into coaching because he knew he couldn’t be idle after competing for so many years.

“Mentally, I’ve been preparing for the last few years. I’ve been around so many different coaches and programs in the NFL. I’ve always paid attention, I’ve always loved the details of the game outside of just kicking the football. I started realizing whatever I do after football is going to have to be competitive. I couldn’t just sit around, couldn’t just play golf. The reality is I still need the stimulus of competition.”

As Special Teams Quality Control Coordinator, he will function as a support staff member, not as one of the nine official assistant coaches allowed by NCAA rules. As such, he can’t directly coach players but will instead function in a support role.

“I’ll have a hand in day-to-day scouting of opponents, scouting our own players, evaluations of our own guys in all the special teams roles. I’m excited to learn from the bottom up, because that’s how you learn things. You can’t have the pyramid without having the bottom base, and the more I can learn and soak up, the more it prepares me for the future.”

Shayne Graham
Shayne Graham in his most famous Hokie moment: kicking the game winner at West Virginia in 1999 (photo: Virginia Tech)

Graham will be working for CMU head coach John Bonamego, who will be entering his third season as the Chippewas’ head man in 2017. From 1999-2014, Bonamego coached in the NFL, which Graham says is his goal.

When asked if a head coaching job in the NFL is his ultimate aim, Graham answered, “I’m not putting head coach on my ultimate goal list yet. I don’t know that that’s something that I’d really want to do. I’m not against it, but before that happens, I’ll have to be a special teams coordinator first. Head coach isn’t out of the question, but I have to start at the bottom.

“Learning how to talk to players as a coach, learning how to talk to other coaches as a co-worker, instead of them being my boss, is all part of this next chapter. One day I see myself coaching in the NFL, and that’s a pretty lofty goal, but I’ve achieved other lofty goals.

“Even at a job like this, it’s great to have goals that I get to work hard for and get to reach for. I’ve always had that since I was a kid. I had a goal to be a high school kicker, then get a scholarship, and then win a national championship, then make the NFL, and then be as good as I could in the NFL.”

So as his playing career started to come to an end, he started leaning towards the coaching side of football. “I started paying more attention, soaking in more information about the football side of special teams, and I knew that would help me once I got into coaching. Even before I announced my retirement I was working on connections and networking.”

Talk of connections and networking — and special teams — naturally brings up the topic of Frank Beamer, and his role in helping Graham move on to this next phase.

“Coach Beamer didn’t help me with the decision to choose CMU, but he was very integral in the process of helping me with a letter of recommendation, my resume … he did a lot. I can think back to when I was leaving Virginia Tech after my playing career there, he did the same thing for me to get an NFL job. I remember getting my first gig in Buffalo [in 2001], and one of the coaches told me, ‘Thank Coach Beamer, he put in the good word for you here.’

“His reputation stretches really far, beyond Blacksburg. You can’t know football and not know who he is.”

Fifteen years of bouncing around from one NFL team to another — eight of the ten teams he played for kept him for just one season or less — has Graham ready to do all he can to keep his job and move up.

“I’ve got to earn my keep. I can be fired, just like any other coach or player, so I’ve got to be good at this. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.”

It’s a big step to move from the player side to the coaching side, but he’s ready for the opportunity. “I can’t tell you how happy I was to dig into this and think about all the things I have to do, and to get started.”

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20 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. My first memory of Shayne was as follows:
    My wife and I had just retired to Pulaski, Va, in 1993. Previous address: Chapel Hill Road, [really!]. Charlottesville, VA. One Friday we decided to go to a football game, and in the course of that game the coach sent in sophomore/junior? Shane Graham to kick a 50 yard field goal. That’s stupid I thought, a high schooler kicking a 50 yard field goal, what’s with that coach. Turn’s out I was stupid and the coach [he had won a state championship], kicking coach[he was a dandy, he created Kinzer also], and Shayne were brilliant. Bang, a 50-yarder, kicked and made.

  2. I joked after he retired that he must have used up all of his nine lives, I would read in the paper that a team would drop him only to read later (maybe much later) when some other team’s player got hurt/cut that he had re-signed. (Reading the article, not to far off, he was with 10 teams) That shows you something about tenacity and … networking. Shayne “El gato” Graham. Good luck with the Chippewas

  3. Graham, Vick, Davis, Moore, – Some of our best players ever on that team. I still can’t believe he made that kick. Wonderful.

  4. Got into the ’74 Super Beetle just as Opie was getting ready to kick that famous field goal. My wife had decided of all nights that that would be the one for us to view an Egyptian exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I looked like Clark Griswold taking in the Grand Canyon.

  5. Great picture of Graham from the 99 WVU game. That little bit of motion blur from the ball says it all. It’s gonna be GOOD!

  6. Shayne, once you have sowed your coaching oats, I hope you return to coach at VT someday! Possibly when Coach Shibest decides to retire? That’s maybe 10 more years of seasoning.

  7. God Speed Shayne

    I was sitting in the end zone looking down the harsh mark behind you. You kicked the ball and I knew immediately it was good.

    Thanks for the memory …….!!!!

    Ut Prosim

    VT78

  8. Shayne is #10 on the NFL career percentage of FGs made at 85.5%. Janakowski, the dirtbag FSU kicker in 1999, is not in the top 20, however he is #10 on the career points list. Shayne is #35 in career points with 1,260 points.

    Good job Shayne, and congrats on a great career. You represented Virginia Tech well. Thanks.

    1. So with such great stats, I wonder how come he kept going from team to team? Must have been leg strength?

      1. I don’t follow the NFL very closely, but …. I think that’s just the life of a kicker. You miss one halfway important kick, boom … you’re gone.

    1. Shane all time leading scorer in VT history, with our man Joey Slye threatening….congrats to Shane!

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