NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jason Michael's career took him out of of the Southeast, but his new role with the Tennessee Titans has brought him back.
Michael, who was hired as offensive coordinator earlier this month by new head coach Ken Whisenhunt is from Louisa, Ky., a small town of about 2,500 on the border of West Virginia.
Michael coached tight ends the past three seasons in San Diego where Whisenhunt was offensive coordinator last season. He said he's excited about the opportunity ahead and continuing to implement what he's learned from his father, a former high school coach, and coaches that he did play for in high school and college and work for.
As a senior Michael played quarterback at Western Kentucky, helping the squad coached by Jack Harbaugh to the 2002 Division I-AA national championship.
"I think in this game, profession, business, you take your acquaintances and the relationships that you've built along the way and you take pieces of all of them," Michael said this week, his first full one on the job. "Going back to my dad, who was a high school coach, going back to my high school coach, to Coach Harbaugh, you take something from all those guys.
"Coach Harbaugh at Western Kentucky, it was just the passion that he brought to the game and the fire and drive to be great," Michael continued. "You never forget those things and how he went about doing things, how he treated the players, how the players were part of his family."
Michael's first opportunity to coach was extended in the form of a graduate assistant position by former University of Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer in 2003. Michael was an assistant secondary coach and helped with special teams for two seasons before going to the Raiders as a quality control coach in 2005 and going to the New York Jets in the same role in 2006. Michael coached Jets tight ends in 2007 and returned to Fulmer's staff in 2008 to coach tight ends. He was an offensive assistant with San Francisco 2009-10 and began coaching tight ends in San Diego in 2011.
Fulmer recently complimented Michael's intelligence and work ethic during a radio interview on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.
Michael earned a civil engineering degree at Western Kentucky but knew he wanted to coach said it "means a lot" to hear that Fulmer appreciated his work.
"You're always trying to better yourself for the better of the team," Michael said. "Coach Fulmer gave me an opportunity. I owe him a great deal for giving me that opportunity. Once you get into those places, it's about what you do, and I felt from the day that I, whether it be in school, in football, as a player or coach, the effort is always going to be there. I've done that and had a chance from there to move on and go to a couple of places and had a chance to get back with him and did that because of the relationship that I had with him and still have that relationship with him: a great man, a genuine man, one of my dear friends that I think a lot of, not only in this profession, but as a friend."