ORLANDO, Fla. – When Zac Zedrick took over the men’s golf program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, he knew he had signed on to become part of one of the most prestigious fraternities in college athletics.
Better known as the “Cradle of Coaches” – a nearly half-century-old moniker trademarked by the school in February – it’s a select group that includes football’s Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Weeb Ewbank, Earl “Red” Blaik and baseball’s Walter Alston, among others.
“It’s humbling,” the first-year head coach said during the Redhawks’ final round of the UCF Rio Pinar Invitational on March 20 at Rio Pinar CC.
“I knew the history of great coaches that have been at Miami, from Coach Schembechler to Coach Brown to Coach Hayes and on through the history of the athletic department. It feels good to be part of a group of coaches and staff that really care about the university.”
Miami’s reputation as the “Cradle of Coaches” began in 1959, when Miami graduates Paul Dietzel and Ara Parseghian were coaching the top two college football teams in the country: Dietzel at LSU and Parseghian at Northwestern.
The name stuck, ingraining itself into the school’s culture.
Miami graduate Bob Kurz referred to the phrase in his book, “Miami of Ohio: The Cradle of Coaches.” And in 1992, Miami’s Hall of Fame Committee began inducting members into the Cradle of Coaches Association, which honors coaches who are Miami graduates or have coached at the school.
“The quality of people that have been through there, it just speaks to how special Miami is,” said Zedrick, 28, who earned four golf letters at Michigan State, graduating in 2006. He served for the past three years as an assistant at Wichita State before landing his first head-coaching position. “The university welcomed me and my wife with open arms. That’s why you have something like the Cradle of Coaches.”
Zedrick, however, laughs at the thought of his name being mentioned in the same breath as the Miami-bred coaching legends that preceded him.
It’s not the name recognition that concerns Zedrick, but rather emulating the success that those coaches developed. The Redhawks, No. 181 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, placed ninth at Rio Pinar, their best finish of the season, and haven’t won a tournament since September 2010.
Now the young team, which boasts no seniors, will play four tournaments leading up to the Mid-American Conference Tournament on May 4-6 in Sugar Grove, Ill. Miami’s busy schedule includes playing three Big Ten-hosted tournaments in consecutive weeks: The Rutherford hosted by Penn State, Iowa’s Hawkeye Invitational and Purdue’s Boilermaker Invitational.
“The important thing, and I stress this to my guys, is that I’m the last thing this program is about,” Zedrick said. “It’s more about them, what they want for each other, for themselves and for the program. And for this program to get to where I believe it can be, it’s going to be about building a culture that breeds success and breeds excellence.”
A culture like the “Cradle of Coaches.”