When the Chandler Valley Christian football hiring committee took a look at new coach Jeff Rutledge’s referrals on his resume, eyebrows raised.
Among those listed were New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, and former Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks Phil Simms and Kurt Warner.
Wow. Who do they call first?
Then, you look at Rutledge’s list of accomplishments:
13 NFL seasons as a quarterback, led Alabama to the 1978 national championship while being coached by the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant (had a 33-5 record as starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide), played on two Super Bowl championship teams, quarterbacks coach of the Cardinals’ Super Bowl team that was led by Warner.
How do you top that?
But Rutledge also has an impressive high school coaching background. Before he was hired by then Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, Rutledge led Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville to two consecutive Tennessee high school football championships in 2002 and 2003. His 2003 team was ranked 15th nationally in USA Today’s final poll.
He was also a head coach at Pope John Paul II High in Hendersonville, TN.
He still has children and grandchildren living in Tennessee.
So what brings him back to the Valley?
“We love Arizona,” Rutledge said. “My wife has a great job here. She works for a great group.”
Rising senior quarterback T.J. Widner, who is drawing interest from Arizona State as a tight end, said in just a couple of days Rutledge has given the Valley Christian football program a big boost.
“It’s really exciting to have that one-on-one with someone who has played and coached at all those levels,” Widner said. “Having that big name here brings up the whole atmosphere.”
With Rutledge’s connections, who knows, Warner may happen to show up at a Valley Christian football practice one day.