Stan Parrish comes out of 'semi-retirement' to take reins of Eastern Michigan offense
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
Stan Parrish spent the last winter at his home in Ann Arbor, the third of his “semi-retirement” since leaving Ball State in 2010. He was comfortable, but at 67 the itch to coach remained for the self-described “lifer”, even if the willingness to move across the country to do so wasn’t there.
So he moved across the county instead.
In Ypsilanti, Ron English spent the winter replacing both of his Eastern Michigan coordinators after a 2-9 season. After he named himself defensive coordinator, he needed a veteran offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach -- and one willing to come to Ypsilanti to work for a head coach in the final year of a contract.
A match was made.
“I just happened to be right down the road, and he just happened to be looking for somebody,” Parrish said Sunday at Eastern Michigan’s media day.
“Coach needs to have a good year, and I want to help him have a good year. That’s the bottom line on why I came.”
In Parrish, English found a former head coach who mentored the likes of Tom Brady, Brian Griese and Drew Henson in as a Michigan assistant and worked in the NFL under quarterback guru Jon Gruden. He will be on the sideline when the Eagles open the season Aug. 31 at home against Howard.
Since taking over the offensive reins at EMU in January, job one for Parrish has been mentoring Tyler Benz, the junior returning quarterback who showed promise after taking over midseason for Alex Gillett.
To English, the difference in his quarterback since then has been astounding.
“He’s a different quarterback,” English said. “He looks different, he talks different, he acts different. He had made some just fabulous throws, he knows what he’s doing.”
Benz threw for more than 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games last year as a sophomore, one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season.
But transitioning to Parrish’s west coast offense meant Benz would have to do tweaking, starting with the footwork.
And mechanics are just the start. Parrish’s quarterback program has an emphasis on the mentality of playing the position, and carrying yourself like a leader on and off the field.
“I put a lot of pressure on him every day, every throw in practice, and we set our bar very high and we don’t lower the bar,” Parrish said.
“If the quarterback doesn’t play well in this offense, you lose. “It’s that plain and simple. How’s that for pressure on a kid?”
Parrish is back coaching in Washtenaw County after a 12-year hiatus. He left Michigan in 2001, but never sold his Ann Arbor home through two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and six at Ball State, where he coached under Brady Hoke and eventually succeeded him.
Since leaving Ball State in 2010, he has spent the last two seasons volunteering as an assistant at the upstart Siena Heights football program.
But when Eastern Michigan’s offensive coordinator position came available, Parrish couldn’t resist the return to full-time coaching, the short commute, and the chance to mentor not only young players but young assistants.
“I think you owe the game, and you have to give back to the game,” Parrish said. “...That’s a big part of what I planned on doing with my career later in my career, because a lot of guys gave back for me and I was fortunate enough to be around them."