The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


January 25, 2012

Colts pick Pagano

New Indianapolis Colts head coach comes from football family

ANDERSON, Ind. — Chuck Pagano spent just one season as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator, but the new Indianapolis Colts head coach’s football pedigree nearly matches royal families such as the Harbaughs and Ryans.

His father, Sam, was a high school coach in Boulder, Colo., for 25 years, and his brother, John, was named the San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator on Jan. 5 after 10 years as the team’s linebackers coach.

NFL Network reporter Albert Breer described Pagano as a players’ coach in a tweet Wednesday and compared him to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

According to Breer, Pagano can’t match Ryan’s boastfulness, but he shares Ryan’s aggressive nature and swagger.

Pagano also shares Ryan’s defensive chops.

The Colts will introduce Pagano as the franchise’s 19th head coach during a 3 p.m. press conference today.

He described his family’s football history to San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Kevin Acee before his Ravens met John’s Chargers on Dec. 18.

“It’s all we knew,” Pagano said of the coaching life. “Growing up on the sidelines and watching dad do his thing and being around the players and playing for him, going on and playing in college, it seemed like the natural progression. ... It’s what we grew up with. We had the best role model you could have.”

According to Acee’s story, Sam Pagano attempted to talk his sons out of coaching.

He pushed Chuck, now 51 and seven years John’s senior, into pursuing a business degree. But his eldest son couldn’t shake the football bug.

Sam Pagano was a highly successful coach at Fairview High School, winning three state titles during a career that spanned from 1969 to 1994. He started the Mile High Football Camp in 1975, and his sons continue to coach there each year.

Chuck Pagano, of course, played for his father before moving on to the University of Wyoming, where he was a four-year letterwinner and two-year starter at strong safety.

His coaching career began in 1984 as a graduate assistant at USC, and he’s made his biggest impact coaching defensive backs.

After stops at the University of Miami, Boise State, East Carolina (twice) and UNLV (where he coached alongside John), Pagano got his first big break as a defensive backs coach at Miami in 1995 under head coach Butch Davis.

In 2001, Pagano followed Davis to the Cleveland Browns. In his first season, he guided rookie Anthony Henry to the NFL lead with 10 interceptions. He’s coached two other players who have led the league in picks — Ed Reed in Baltimore and Nnamdi Asomugha in Oakland.

Pagano left Cleveland for a two-year stint coaching defensive backs with the Raiders, then rejoined Davis at the University of North Carolina for one season as the defensive coordinator in 2007. Pagano improved the Tar Heels’ defense from 92nd nationally to 35th.

He joined the Ravens in 2008 as the defensive backs coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator this season when Greg Mattison left for the University of Michigan.

Pagano’s defense ranked third in the NFL in total yards (288.9) and points (16.6) per game. The Ravens were fifth in passing yards (209.0) and fifth in rushing yards (113.5).

Baltimore had four defensive players named to the AFC’s Pro Bowl team — Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Reed.

“Chuck, he’s the ultimate coach that you wanted to play for,” Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo told the team’s official website. “On the field, you never wanted to let him down. It’s great news. You like to see people excel and become so much more and see what they become. It would be a selfish point of view to be sad. He’s going on to bigger things.”

Colts safety Antoine Bethea, a two-time Pro Bowler, expressed excitement over Pagano’s hire on his Twitter account Wednesday. Bethea said he hopes Pagano brings the Ravens’ style of defense with him.

Indianapolis has run a 4-3 scheme, emphasizing former head coach Tony Dungy’s “Tampa 2” coverage, since 2002. Pagano ran a more aggressive 3-4 scheme in Baltimore and could look to add bulk to the Colts’ defense.

Pagano was chosen from a list of at least nine known candidates that included Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, former Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress, former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, New Orleans Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman and San Francisco 49ers special teams coordinator Brad Seely.

The Pagano family has ties to the Colts. John was a defensive assistant coach in Indianapolis from 1998 to 2001.

“It’s difficult to leave the Ravens, but I couldn’t pass up on this great opportunity,” Pagano told the Ravens’ website. “I’m just thrilled and so excited.”

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