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Buccaneers Coordinator Q&A: Keith Armstrong

Keith Armstrong loves football. Like, loves football. Of course, absolutely everyone who chooses to invest a great number of days away from their family and a great number of hours in an workplace strategizing a stay-motion model of chess would have to. But Keith is in it.

His introductory push conference was my initially inkling into Keith’s enjoy for the video game. He fired off the X’s and O’s of special groups suitable off the bat – making me blink swiftly and attempt to decipher the terms like I was striving to comprehend my grandparents when they yelled at me in Polish as a youngster. I could decide on out some issues, but though I could not set the entire puzzle with each other, it was distinct in that push conference, just as it was when I was tiny, there was enthusiasm guiding those words. Keith has overlooked extra football than most of us will most likely at any time know. He’s performed and coached all phases of the video game and he’s acquired ‘a hell of a lot’ of tales alongside the way, together with finding fired by Lou Holtz to make certain he’d get a position with the Atlanta Falcons less than June Jones.

He also performed for Bruce Arians at Temple, alongside with Todd Bowles and Todd McNair, both equally of whom are on employees now in Tampa Bay, and he’s acquired a lot to say about how BA was back again then. Japanese Pennsylvania is the place it all started off for Keith and a lifelong enjoy affair with football followed.

You grew up outside the house of Philadelphia, but I really feel like Japanese Pennsylvania does not have very the football popularity that Western Pennsylvania does…

Yeah, reputations, but you know how that stuff goes. The enjoyable aspect of it was, Pitt was a rival of ours, so when I performed football at Temple College they conquer us my freshman year and we conquer them each individual year right after that. Even in high faculty, the Massive 33 video game: East Pennsylvania vs . West Pennsylvania, bam, there was normally a clash. I assumed high faculty football there was wonderful, had a genuinely superior time in college. We had been really competitive. I have been participating in football considering that 1972, St. Joseph the Worker, CYO, 70-pound squad.”

So you just stuck with football from then?

Oh yeah. Moreover, the Pittsburgh Steelers had been winning Tremendous Bowls at that time, it was like 1974, the Steel Curtain, I observed all of that. I was extra of a Steelers lover than an Eagles lover. But I was an Eagles lover for a person year in 1982 when Dick Vermeil took more than and he took them to the Tremendous Bowl, but they didn’t gain. Kenny King was the running back again for Oakland, I nevertheless try to remember it. Will Montgomery was the running back again for Philadelphia. 1 cause why I switched more than, as well, was mainly because I went to Ron Jaworski’s football camp the summer time of my junior year going into my senior year. He invited all the gamers in the spot if you had been all-league or whatever, so I went and had a hell of a time for about a week. I became a lover mainly because I achieved those fellas. So when you observed Harold Carmichael it was hey person, that dude taught me how to run an out-route.

What was it that made you choose Temple then more than the other faculties?

To be genuine with you, I signed with Wayne Hardin. I didn’t indication with Bruce. Wayne retired at the conclude of my freshman year and then Bruce arrived in 1982. I was a redshirt freshman. I beloved it mainly because he was all about work and electrical power and participating in difficult and that was suitable up my alley. I fell in enjoy with it.

[Yes, that’s how long BA has known Keith. And he’s not the only one on staff who played for BA at Temple. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles is another… more on that in the next part of this series.]

I conclude up getting his starting off tailback my redshirt freshman year. Bruce was enjoyable to perform for. If you didn’t perform difficult, you had been going to listen to about it and never act like you didn’t are entitled to it. But it was enjoyable. The method was alive mainly because of his electrical power, you know? Factors altered. He invested in you. My mom was a schoolteacher so I didn’t have to have him to notify me to go to class, but they had been walking all around examining lessons. I was coming out of there with a diploma. I understood that. Right after that year, I assumed I was going to be all-planet starting off for him [laughs] but then the following year Paul Palmer arrived on the home, who finishes up coming in 2nd to Vinny Testaverde for the Heisman, so, uh, issues altered.

By the time we had been performed my senior year, I was captain and then I GA’d [was a graduate assistant] for Bruce. It was my senior year and we had been in extend, most likely initially day in complete pads. He walks up to me and suggests, ‘Hey person, what are you going to do right after this period?’ I explained I was going to scholar train in the spring and I was going to go back again to North Penn and coach with my high faculty coach, be a teacher and a coach. I acquired a diploma in P.E. and I had already performed the elementary education requirements so I was going to go do the high faculty stuff back again home. I was prepared to rock and roll. He suggests, ‘I’ll notify you what, you want to be a GA?’

What do you believe it was about you that made him decide on you out?

I believe he observed how I managed issues, like when I acquired demoted and went from starting off tailback to H-back again, then back again to special groups. I believe when he observed the actuality that I never stopped participating in, I just enjoy football. You know what I imply? Todd McNair [who’s now on the Bucs’ staff as the running backs coach] arrived in, bam, he’s the tailback, I’m nevertheless participating in. I had leadership qualities and I believe he observed that. I’m guessing. But I believe the greatest detail is that he observed that it didn’t subject how numerous periods I acquired knocked down, I popped suitable back again up and saved rolling. That’s been me.

[That GA job propelled Keith into the coaching ranks. While he was at Temple, Joe Moore became the offensive line coach. Previously, Moore had worked at Pitt with none other than Jimmy Johnson. Moore then presents Keith with two options after his first GA year: the University of Iowa, under Barry Alvarez, who was the defensive coordinator at the time and is now the current AD at Wisconsin, or under Jimmy Johnson at the University of Miami. Guess which one he chose?]

They had been incredibly hot back again then. It was THE College of Miami. The true a person. Sh-t was rolling. It wasn’t 24 hours afterwards I explained I’ll get you up on that Jimmy Johnson deal. They set me on defense. But on offense, they had Gary Stevens, who acquired me my initially position imagine it or not. The offensive coordinator acquired me my initially position at the College of Akron coaching large receivers for Gerry Faust.

How did it transform into special groups?

Jimmy Johnson phone calls me right after the Akron period and suggests, ‘Keith, I acquired a position for you at Oklahoma Condition.’ Jimmy had absent from Pitt to Oklahoma Condition for his initially position so he acquired me on there to coach defensive backs for 3 many years. Then, I go to Joe Moore, who is now at Notre Dame coaching offensive line. Lou Holtz has an outside the house linebacker/special groups position open up. Bam. So, I did [special teams] there. Now, with Lou Holtz, if you weren’t aspiring to do something much better or become a head coach, if you had been just going to settle at Notre Dame, he was most likely going to permit you go. I’m carrying out these minority internships in the summer time. I did a person with Joe Daniels from the Jets. Joe was the OC at Akron with me. I did a person with Jimmy in Dallas. And I did a person with Dave Wannstedt when he acquired the Chicago Bears head position. I’m doing the job my butt off.

1 day, Lou Holtz sends the secretary into our employees conference to pull me out and I go into Lou’s workplace, the phone is just like this [takes his phone receiver off its dock]. I say, ‘Yes, Coach?’ I’m 27 many years previous. He suggests, ‘Keith, I acquired June Jones on the phone, he wants to chat to you about the secondary position with the Atlanta Falcons. Are you interested in getting this position?’ I explained Coach, at 27 many years previous, I have to get that prospect. He seemed at me and suggests, ‘Well, you much better get it. Here’s the phone.’ And handed the phone to me.

I get on the phone with June and June suggests effectively, I guess you are employed [belly laughs].

He listened to the entire detail?

Oh yeah. I explained yeah, Coach, I believe I’m out of a position listed here.

[June Jones and his staff at the Falcons were fired after three years. By this time, Dave Wannstedt is the head coach of the Chicago Bears and offers Keith the job of special teams coordinator, which solidified him at the position.]

So, now you are exclusively special groups in Chicago, that is the place it started off.

That’s the place it genuinely started off. The initially year, we completed 27th in the league in special groups. They’re killing me in those Chicago papers and they get private, now. They threw jabs, they’re imitating how I speak, they’re just killing me. I acquired my fists balled up, I’m prepared to fight the entire city. Future year, we end fourth.

I believe a person, I grew as a coach. A dude by the identify of Al Roberts took the time, I went to his property in Cincinnati, and he invested two days with me and went by means of every thing he did. I took that and built the frame off of that. I took a lot of it and made it my individual, bent it to the place I needed it to be. I have to give the late Mark Hatley credit, mainly because if it wasn’t for him, I would not be listed here. He didn’t have the GM title, but he was the GM. Dave was expressing possibly they ought to shift me to excellent manage right after that year of ending 27th and then Mark explained no, he can coach. We just have to fix some stuff. I’ll notify you what, he did a hell of a position. We did effectively.

Then you went back again to the Falcons for the earlier 11 many years. How is that going to be looking at them two times a year now as a member of the opposition?

I know those fellas. We’ll adjust a lot of verbiage and terminology listed here as we go by means of it and go by means of the technique and all. It is the nature of this league. You just have to continue to keep rolling. Of course, we’re going to compete. I’m not putting any fuel on the fireplace. It is undoubtedly a division that I’m really common with.

With all these moves, how has your family adjusted to this life style?

They’re tricky. I didn’t get married till I was at Oklahoma Condition, the last year. My spouse was a schoolteacher at Oklahoma Condition and she had to fall that position to arrive to Notre Dame with me and function at a mall. Then in Atlanta, she acquired back again into training and initially baby was that third year in Atlanta. Then we shift suitable away to Chicago, market the property, shift with a a person-year-previous. Then we have my 2nd daughter in Chicago in the fourth year, suitable ahead of we go away. Now, I acquired a four-year-previous and a a person-year-previous and we shift to Miami and stayed there till 2007. In 2008, I at last explained nope. When we went to Atlanta, I started off commuting. In the offseasons, I arrived home on Friday nights and remaining Ft. Lauderdale on Sundays at 5 p.m. Through the period, they would arrive up for the game titles. It was a lot easier when they had been in elementary faculty, it acquired more difficult as they went to high faculty mainly because they had been both equally swimmers. Now, they’re both equally performed swimming and I’m suitable down the road so I can drive 3 hours or get a 30-moment flight.

I say to the fellas all the time, I never have to have a pep chat. I acquired two young children.

Sunday a person o’clock, I know what we’re carrying out, let’s go gain mainly because we’re all getting treatment of each other’s family members. I feed your young children and you feed mine.

I know that coaching does not make it possible for for a lot of absolutely free time, but do you have hobbies? You have this Peloton bike in your workplace, I see.

I just started off that about a year back. I had a person in Atlanta and I had a person at the property. Now, I purchased a person for listed here and nevertheless have the a person at home. I enjoy it. I trip. Outdoors of that, I never genuinely have a entire lot of hobbies outside the house of football. I like to chat ball. That’s been really much it.

Appears like you are just sort of a football dude.

Yeah, I picked the suitable occupation, I believe.

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