Monday, January 03, 2005

Weis adds another coach | by Pat

A new name apparently added to Charlie Weis' staff is another former Dolphin assistant, Bernie Parmalee. It appears that Rich Bisaccia will stay in Tampa Bay with Jon Gruden and that Parmalee will take his place as the new special teams coach (and coach TEs as well). As the only assistant coach with no college coaching experience and only three years of coaching experience total, Parmalee appears as a bit of a mystery hire. So what can we expect from him?

Parmalee is well-known to Dolphin fans for his seven years as a running back, and also his unique story about how he made it to the NFL. After graduating from Ball State, Parmalee spent a year out of football working as a cashier in a bowling alley and on a UPS loading dock. In 1992, he made the Dolphins as a free agent and worked his way up from a special teams player to the team's leading rusher in 1994 and 1995. After he lost the starting running back job, he continued to contribute as the special teams captain in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, the New York Jets signed Parmalee to help out their special teams and this is the year his path crossed with Charlie Weis, who was the Jets offensive coordinator that year.

After retiring from football in 2001, Parmalee joined the Dolphins for the 2002 season as an assistant under special teams coach Keith Armstrong and as an offensive assistant. Some Irish fans might recall that Armstrong was the linebackers and special teams coach at Notre Dame in 1993. During the two years that Parmalee assisted Armstrong on special teams, the Dolphins did not allow a punt or kickoff to be returned for a touchdown. This past year he was promoted to running backs coach and later, when offensive coordinator Joel Collier stepped down due to illness, he shifted over to tight ends coach, which was fine for Miami Dolphins TE Randy McMichael:

"He keeps telling us how good a tight end he was," McMichael said. "I believe it
because he's a good coach and he's really helping us out a lot. He knows football. That's the thing about Bernie -- he's a good football coach, not just a tight ends coach."
What all this means for Irish fans isn't entirely clear. Parmalee has special teams experience both as a coach and as a veteran who at one point was signed specifically for his special teams experience and leadership. In fact, Parmalee received some high praise from Bill Parcells when he signed with the Jets.
"I've coached against him for nearly seven years," said Jets coach Bill Parcells. "I know Bernie better than I know some of the guys on my own team. He's what I'd consider a very good all-around football player. I'm pretty well aware of what he can do. He's an excellent special teams player and he knows what to do out there on the field."
Parmalee is a bit different from the other assistants on Charlie Weis' staff in that he is the only one with limited coaching experience and no recruiting experience. However, he does have the advantage of being a recent NFL player with multiple years of experience playing on special teams. Whether that translates to excellent special teams coaching isn't immediately obvious, but after playing in the NFL for nine years, Parmalee has had exposure to many successful coaches. He played under head coaches Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson, and Bill Parcells. Also, while in Miami as special teams captain, he played under special teams coach Mike Westoff, who in 2000 was named NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year. Parmalee's path from the UPS loading docks to starting running back in the NFL also has helped to shape his coaching style.
“I’ve worked for everything,” said Parmalee, 34. “Nothing ever came easy. I’m
going to let [the players] know the route I took and have them stay focused and
play hard.”
When it comes to recruiting it appears that Parmalee is a novice, but his youth and NFL experience should be great assests in recruiting. Like Weis, he is a Jersey native who could help out recruiting in the east coast, or he could use his connections in Miami to help recruit Florida.

Of course, the key to recruiting is persistence and out-hustling the competition, and everything written about Parmalee suggests that he's no stranger to hard work. Perhaps Weis is taking a bit of a flier on Parmalee, but after working with him on the Jets and coaching against him the past 3 years, Weis probably has a far greater grasp on Parmalee's talents and abilities than a few google searches will turn up. Parmalee looks like a fine addition to Charlie's staff.

Bernie Parmalee Bio