Reid stayed at BYU as a grad assistant for just the one year in 1982, and his next opportunity would come through the help of Edwards.
“[Edwards] had hired Holmgren on the recommendation from Rowen,” Reid explained. “In return, a year later, it was like a trade out. 'I did you a favor, now you have to take this young guy that has no experience and do me a favor and hire him.'
“That's how I got to San Francisco State."
Every Tuesday and Thursday, the coaches would sell hot dogs to earn money for the football program. Andrew would sell hot dogs in the middle of the commons, you know, out in the middle of campus.”
- Tammy recalls their time at San Francisco State
Rowen and Edwards were both, at different times, presidents of the College Football Coaches Association. They were on the board together and had known each other forever.
The opportunity for Reid at San Francisco State was about learning how to coach—Rowen had a knack for developing coaches. It was a teachers college and the athletes were non-scholarship, so there wasn’t much pay and the coaches had to do a lot of different things to make ends meet.
“Every Tuesday and Thursday, the coaches would sell hot dogs to earn money for the football program,” Tammy recalled of that time. “Andrew would sell hot dogs in the middle of the commons, you know, out in the middle of campus.”
At the time they moved, Tammy and Andrew had one son, Garrett, but it wouldn’t be long before another son, Britt, came into the picture.
Their family would continue to grow with every new opportunity.
“I’d put the boys in the wagon and we’d walk over to campus and get hot dogs,” she recalled.
That money went to the football department, so there was still the matter of their own money that had to be made to make ends meet.
Reid was actually umpiring baseball games the night after Britt, his second son, was born.
“He couldn’t come visit me until he had umpired three games,” Tammy recalled. “They always started after dinner so he would make $10 or $15 a game and he did that as much as he could. I remember the night after Britt was born, he came in his gear, wearing the dark navy pants, the light blue shirt, the little pouch with the brush to wipe off the plate, the clicker and he came to see me the next night.
“I was just like, ‘Oh, my poor husband.’”
While money was scarce, that didn’t stop Reid from having his offensive linemen over once a week to watch film and study.
Each night they came over, Tammy would make Mississippi Mud Pie to feed them.
“We were super poor,” Tammy explained. “I can't even stress how much we did not have enough money to do this every week, but Andrew loved his guys and so I would have them over once a week and make it for them.”
He was only a few years older than the players he was coaching, but Reid felt like it was important to create a family atmosphere amongst his little faction of the team, so these weekly get-togethers were important to him.
One of the guys at that weekly get-together was Tom Melvin, who was his only senior offensive lineman on that team. Melvin is now the tight ends coach for the Chiefs.
Selling hot dogs, umpiring baseball games, in addition to being a coach—all of this was done because of his love for football.
With a wife, two young sons and a plethora of responsibilities, Reid knew it was important to take advantage of the time he had with Rowen because of all the sacrifices they were making.
“I've got this coach that's tougher than shoe leather, but he was a teacher of coaches,” Reid noted. “He'd have a banana, an onion bagel and a glass of water, and this was at 6 in the morning. He'd go 'If you were presented this defense right here, give me the top three runs and the top three throws you would do.'
“Then he had me explain to him how I would coach every player out there. He'd do this every day to me and just grill me. I was just out of college and he'd just grill me and grill me.”
This is how one of the greatest coaches in NFL history got indoctrinated in the coaching world.
At the crack of dawn every morning, Rowen, who would develop three NFL head coaches during his time at San Francisco State in Reid, Holmgren and Dirk Koetter, would make Reid explain how he would coach the techniques to every player on the field for multiple plays against multiple defenses.
It’s a process that worked, and while this may have been an early link in the chain of Reid’s Xs-and-Os development, the next opportunity would be helped along by an old friend—a pattern we’d continue to see, but was only made feasible through a determination unlike anything his next coach had ever seen.
“I knew LaVell Edwards really well,” said Larry Kentera, the longtime defensive coordinator at Arizona State.
At Arizona State, Kentera coached the likes of future NFL Hall of Famer and Kansas City Chiefs legend Curley Culp before eventually leaving for a head coaching position at Northern Arizona in 1985.
After three years grinding out a life financially at San Francisco State, Reid learned of an opportunity with Kentera at Northern Arizona, and he asked his old coach and the guy who got him started in coaching, Edwards, to put in a good word for him.
“[Edwards] gave [Reid] a high recommendation,” said Kentera.
Edwards made that call, but it wasn’t going to suffice for Reid. He wanted this job.
“I no sooner put the phone down with Lavell before it rings again,” Kentera recalled.
“Coach, this is Andy Reid. I want this job. I'm interested in this job.”
“I said, 'Andy, I'm in a hurry right now. I'm not going to do anything with the job until I get back from a recruiting trip. When I get back from Sacramento, I'll give you a call back.'
What happened next is a reason Reid is where he is today.
When I get to Sacramento, guess who was there waiting for me when I got off the plane? Andy Reid was standing right there. He said, 'Coach, I want that job.'"
- Kentera on Reid tying to get a job
“When I get to Sacramento, guess who was there waiting for me when I got off the plane?” Kentera explained. “Andy Reid was standing right there.”
“He said, 'Coach, I want that job.'”
Reid had found out what flight Kentera was on and made the two-hour drive from San Francisco to Sacramento to wait for him at the airport.
Kentera had no choice after that. Reid was his guy, although he did follow up with Edwards again just to be sure about a guy that would go to that kind of length to get a job.
It wasn’t just coach Reid moving for a new opportunity. Tammy and their two sons would obviously be affected by this life on the move.
“I’d never known a coach, I’d never been with a coach,” she explained. “I had no idea what our lives were going to be like. I was just a roll-with-the-punches kind of girl and I’m a bloom-where-you’re-planted kind of girl. So we’d move. I’d get everybody ready, I’d get the house ready, we’d sell the house, do whatever we needed to do, jump in the U-Haul, and we’d just move.
“It was just a part of life. You were so young that you didn’t even know that it was crazy, that what you were doing was crazy.”
Reid had actually left immediately to begin working in Flagstaff after he accepted the job, which meant it was Tammy’s job to pack up the house and get everything their family owned to their new home in Arizona.
Luckily, she had help from one of Reid’s former players at San Francisco State and a guy he had brought on as a graduate assistant, Tom Melvin. Melvin helped her pack the house and actually drove the U-Haul with all of their family’s belongings to Arizona.
Reid would spend just one year at Northern Arizona, a school his brother, Reggie, attended for a short time, but that amount of time was long enough for Kentera to get an idea of the kind of coach and man Reid ultimately was.
“We had finished our spring ball that year and so I took all of the guys on the bus, we went out to the country, took a lot of drinks and all,” Kentera explained. “Once we got out there, Andy came over and sat by me and said, 'Coach, I don't drink.'
“I said, 'That's okay. I don't care whether you drink or not.'
“He said, 'You don't?'
“I said, 'Nope.'
“He said, 'You know I'm Mormon?'
I remember Dirk calling when we were in Flagstaff. I remember getting the call and saying, 'Dirk, you better not be calling about another job. We haven’t been here but one season.'"
- Tammy on Reid coaching at UTEP
“I said, 'Sure, I know you are. I respect you because you don't drink.'”
Reid’s Mormon faith has been an integral part of his life since he was baptized on August 2, 1980, as a junior at BYU.
It wouldn’t be long before another opportunity came calling.
Dirk Koetter had spent the 1985 season with Reid at San Francisco State as the offensive coordinator, and he had moved on to the University of Texas-El Paso when Reid had left for NAU.
UTEP was an option for Reid at that time as well, but he wasn’t interested.
“I said it’s a graveyard for coaches,” Reid admitted. “I said that and so I went to Northern Arizona. I didn't even want to talk to them.”
Then he got a phone call from an old friend a year later.
“I remember Dirk calling when we were in Flagstaff,” Tammy recalled. “I remember getting the call and saying, ‘Dirk, you better not be calling about another job. We haven’t been here but one season.’
“And he’s like, ‘Just let me talk to Andy, Tam.’
“Sure enough, it was for a job, and that’s why we only lived in Flagstaff for 11 months, 23 days. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget that call. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we just bought a house. We’re settled. We have kids. It’s great here.’
“But, you’ve got to move on.”
Reid said the difference for him on UTEP this time around was that Edwards, who was in the same conference as UTEP—the WAC, told him the new coach there, Bob Stull, was doing good things with the program.
So Reid went to interview with UTEP, and after meeting with Stull, Koetter and company, was taken out to lunch by their young strength and conditioning coach, a guy by the name of Dave Toub.
Koetter is now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Reid ultimately got the job and left a good situation at Northern Arizona, where he was working with Kentera, Melvin and an offensive coordinator named Brad Childress. Their paths would cross again.
The new offensive line coach after Reid left was Bill Callahan, who is currently the offensive line coach for the Washington Redskins. Within the few years after Reid left NAU, Marty Mornhinweg and Darrell Bevell would also be a part of the program.
Mornhinweg is currently the quarterbacks coach with the Baltimore Ravens, while Bevell, who played at NAU in 1989, is the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s an impressive group of coaches to have worked at NAU all around the same time.
“I was just fortunate enough to get these guys together,” Kentera explained. “They all went on to bigger things and all, and the reason they got to where they did was because they were that good."
Reid would spend two years at UTEP working under Stull as their offensive line coach.
During that time, Stull noticed how well Reid could manage his players—something that would be a common trait described of the former offensive lineman.
“He had a way that you always knew he was on your side,” Stull explained. “He’d get on you, but you knew you probably deserved it. He was never a yeller, a screamer or harsh like that, but he’d get on you pretty good if you weren’t doing the right effort and learning what you’re supposed to be learning. The offensive line guys really liked him a lot because, again, he was a great teacher. He wouldn’t let you get away with anything.
“He worked them hard, but he could also laugh. He could see something funny, they could make fun of him about something and he was all right with that. He had a really good sense about him like that.”
In two years at UTEP, team went a combined 17-7 and picked up their first 10-win season in 1988, a year that ended with an Independence Bowl loss to Southern Miss and their young playmaking quarterback—Brett Favre. But soon, the Reid family was on the move again after Stull accepted the head coaching position at the University of Missouri.
The family had grown by one more while they were in El Paso as their first daughter, Crosby, was born.
Koetter was actually offered the head coaching position at UTEP after Stull had accepted the job at Mizzou and wanted Reid to stay with him in Texas, but Koetter ultimately declined the job and they both ended up heading to Columbia with Stull.
Reid would spend the next three years coaching the offensive line at Mizzou.
“It was an opportunity to coach in an awesome conference—the Big Eight,” Reid explained. “You’re talking about when Oklahoma and Nebraska were at their peak. Colorado was one of the best teams in the country.”
He was on the sidelines for the infamous “fifth-down” game, in which the University of Colorado and their star running back Eric Bieniemy would be given an extra down with just seconds remaining because of an official’s mistake.
The extra down gave the Buffaloes another chance to score, which they did.
“Eric Bieniemy cheated,” Reid laughingly said about the game.
Bieniemy went on to finish third in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year. He’s currently the running backs coach for the Chiefs.
After three seasons in Columbia, Reid would once again get a call from an old friend about an opportunity.
This time it brought back a conversation Tammy remembered having during a dinner they had years before when they were at BYU.
“We went to dinner at Mike’s and he asked Andy, ‘If I ever get a head coaching job, would you want to come with me?’
“And [Reid was] like, ‘Sure!’”
Well, it happened. Mike Holmgren had just been hired as the new head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
“When I got the Packers job, I phoned Andy first,” Holmgren recalled. “I said, ‘You’re going to be coaching tight ends. You’re going from coaching 10 or 12 guys, down to coaching probably three.’”
Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid during Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders on August 8, 1997.
The NFL wasn’t on Reid’s radar at the time.
While he had spent a lot of time during the offseason those years at Mizzou driving to Kansas City to talk with Howard Mudd, the offensive line coach with the Chiefs, it wasn’t about finding a way to the NFL. It was about learning as much as he could to develop his guys back at Mizzou.
"I never had that goal,” Reid explained of the NFL. “I know people say that. You'd love to have that opportunity, but I was always big on breaking it down to the things I controlled and not worrying about the things I couldn't control. That's the way you're raised as a lineman I think.
This was a hard decision. We were building something at Missouri, then you leave and you feel like [you're] divorcing the team. It was the first time I had felt that way."
- Reid on leaving the Universiy of Missouri
“So I figured if I worked hard and I kept my nose clean, good things would happen.”
Initially, Reid was skeptical about coaching tight ends. He had been coaching offensive line at the collegiate level for the past 10 years.
“When I was at UTEP and we moved to Missouri, there were a lot of seniors, so they were kind of moving on with us, but this was a different deal. None of the coaches were going with me.”
Their fourth child, another daughter, Drew-Ann, was born when they were in Columbia.
At the time the Green Bay offer came along, Tammy was also six months pregnant with their fifth child and third son, Spencer.
All these years coaching and the NFL had never been the goal.
Then, all of the sudden, from selling hot dogs to driving to meet strangers in airports for coaching jobs, it had all come to this—Reid was now an NFL coach.
He had reached the highest level of football in the world, and he was just getting started.