INDIANAPOLIS — Rob Chudzinski has known Chuck Pagano for nearly 30 years.
The two coaches first met at the University of Miami in 1986 when Pagano was a graduate assistant and Chudzinski was a tight end on the Hurricanes' scout team.
As a low man on the totem pole, Pagano was in charge of running that scout team. But he brought his signature enthusiasm to the task.
"The thing I remember about him the most is he would run," Chudzinski said Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "After every play, he would run about 30 yards down field and be running back. So he's not quite running as much in practice nowadays, but still an excitable guy, high energy, has a great relationship with the players."
Chudzinski almost certainly could be an offensive coordinator somewhere in the NFL today. Perhaps he even could have taken over a college program as a head coach if that was his desire.
But when the Cleveland Browns fired him from his dream job after just a single season, he landed instead in Indianapolis with the nebulous title of Special Assistant to the Head Coach. The reasons for the move literally are written on the walls of the Colts' locker room: Trust, loyalty and respect.
That's the foundation of any friendship. And Chudzinski's friendship with Pagano led him to a comfortable new home.
"What (Pagano's) done, and (general manager) Ryan (Grigson) and Mr. Irsay, with the culture here in the building, you feel it when you come in," Chudzinski said. "Right when you walk in the door."
There have been many questions about exactly how Chudzinski's hiring will affect that culture. The answer appears to be in every way possible.
The man clearly has a great mind for offensive football.
In 2011, he called plays for a Carolina Panthers team that featured three players with at least 700 yards rushing — quarterback Cam Newton and running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart — and ranked seventh in the league in total yards.