NASHVILLE – As a youngster, Brian Callahan was living a dream.
The son of a coach, Callahan grew up on practice fields, college and pro.
The new Titans head coach has plenty of stories to tell.
"My whole life," Callahan said from his new office at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park, "has been in buildings just like this. If you're a kid that enjoys sports, is there anything better? You get to be around football. It was an unbelievable way to grow up."
Callahan's dad, of course, is Bill Callahan, a former head coach with the Raiders in the NFL, and Nebraska in college, who has made 11 different coaching stops in all. The elder Callahan's profession took the family, and Brian, all over the country. Callahan, now offensive line coach with the Browns, just completed his 43rd year as a coach.
As a 10-year-old, Callahan remembers hanging out with then-Wisconsin quarterback Darrell Bevell, who is now pass game coordinator with the Dolphins.
As a teenager, Callahan actually threw passes in minicamp to the Raiders receivers. Callahan was a high school quarterback at the time, and his presence meant the team wouldn't have to sign a fourth QB for offseason work.
"I would throw to Jerry Rice and Tim Brown," Callahan said of the NFL greats.
Callahan, after playing quarterback at UCLA, got the coaching bug after serving as a gradate assistant at the school following his playing days.
It was then, when he realized more than ever, he wanted to be like his dad.
"I finished (my second year as a GA) being like: I think this is for me," Callahan said with a smile. "I called my mom and said: 'I think I want to coach.' And she was furious. … She was like: You have two degrees from UCLA, and you can do whatever you want, and you are going to choose to do this? She was not very happy. She told me to talk to my dad.
"My dad was like, 'Son, you know what you are getting in to.' If you want to do it, there's nothing I can tell you that you don't know. … But don't come crying to me when things get tough."
Callahan, on the day he was introduced at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park, said his father has been a huge influence in his life in so many ways.
"You live this lifestyle, and there's a lot of ups and downs, and there's a lot of adversity that comes your way in coaching," Callahan said. "And so just the fact that I've been able to stand up here and he's been able to do the same thing, for me that's a huge honor. Obviously, you want to be like your dad, you know?"
Callahan got his first coaching job at Junipero Serra High (California), the same school that produced Tom Brady, Barry Bonds, Lynn Swann and David Bakhtiari, among others.
Callahan said he loved coaching the kids, and having an impact on their development.
"To see those kids make improvements, get better," Callahan said. "That refined my teaching style, because you can't assume anything."
Serra High coach Patrick Walsh said the school loved having Callahan, even if it last just two seasons (2008-09).
"He went from freshman OC to varsity OC to the Denver Broncos," Walsh said with a smile. "His meteoric rise has been spectacular to be a part of, but also not surprising.
"I think we all knew that this day was coming, even back then… He has been destined for this moment his entire life. When I had the opportunity to hire him at Serra, I knew it was going to be a brief stint."
The moment for Callahan came last week, when he was introduced as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
After previously working as an assistant with the Broncos, Lions, Raiders and Bengals, Callahan is now at NFL head coach for the first time.
While he's met some of his new players individually, he's already looking forward to addressing the group as a team.
It's in his blood.
"That's the moment I am waiting for, being with the team, being with the guys, starting to build the culture we want to build here," Callahan said. "We want to make it a place guys want to be. To be in Nashville, with the Tennessee Titans, we want this to be a destination players look at around the league and say: I want to be a part of that. And I can't wait to be a part of that. To start that process is going to be awesome."
Father & son head coaches in the NFL:
Bill Callahan, Brian Callahan
Jim Fassel, John Fassel
Jim Mora Sr., Jim Mora Jr.
Dick Nolan, Mike Nolan
Bum Phillips, Wade Phillips
Buddy Ryan, Rex Ryan
Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan
Don Shula, Dave Shula