Twenty years later, Henning expects big things from Koetter
Among the mentors that new Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter has thanked for helping shape his coaching career is former college and NFL coach Dan Henning, who worked with Koetter in 1994-95 at Boston College. Henning said last week that he and Koetter continue to talk regularly, and he has high expectations for him continuing his success as an NFL head coach.
"I think he's going to do a really good job down there," said Henning, now 73 and retired on the east coast of Florida. "He's well ready to be a head coach in the NFL."
Henning came to work with Koetter by unusual circumstances -- Tom Coughlin had hired Koetter away from Missouri to join his staff at Boston College, only to leave abruptly in February 1994 to become the Jaguars' first head coach. Henning took the job, not realizing Coughlin had hired Koetter as part of his staff.
"I'm there for maybe three days and all the sudden, this guy walks into my office and says, 'Coach, can I talk to you?' I said 'Sure, come on in.' He said he was hired by Tom Coughlin. He had never told me," Henning said. "They weren't sure they wanted to keep him, but it was only two or three days and I knew I was going to hire him. The guy was bright, loved to talk football."
Henning and Koetter worked together to complete his staff, going out to lunch each day to talk about candidates they'd interviewed, and Koetter wound up as quarterbacks coach, getting elevated to offensive coordinator in his second season.
"He's a lot more organized than I ever was -- very self-disciplined guy with managerial ability, definite football knowledge," Henning said.
One of the coaches that Koetter recommended for the Boston College staff was George Warhop, who worked two years with them as offensive line coach and was reunited with Koetter and the Bucs last season. Koetter not only retained Warhop but added the title of run game coordinator for the upcoming season.
Henning lived in Jacksonville when Koetter and new Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith worked together on the Jaguars staff in 2007, and he said he would meet with them about once a week during a year off before his final job as the Dolphins' offensive coordinator in 2008-10.
"He (Smith) and Dirk have a good relationship -- they're a good combination, I think," he said.