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New Dolphins coach Joe Philbin says it was his time at Worcester Academy that led him to a career in coaching

02.23.12 at 1:26 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — New Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin can trace his football roots back to Massachusetts ‘€” he was born in Springfield, went to Worcester Academy and really cut his teeth as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach with Northeastern from 1995-96 and then with Harvard from 1997-98.

But it was his time at Worcester Academy that really laid the groundwork for his life as a coach. Philbin spent one year there as a student and football player, on a team that had then-unknowns Kirk Ferentz, Mike Sherman and Ken O’€™Keefe on the coaching staff: Ferentz would go on to coach at Iowa and serve as the offensive line coach under Bill Belichick in Cleveland, while Sherman would become head coach at Texas A&M and Green Bay and O’€™Keefe would become offensive coordinator at Iowa.

Speaking at the annual NFL scouting combine on Thursday, as far as he was concerned, when it came to putting together a coaching staff, he jumped at the chance to add Sherman (another Massachusetts native) as Miami’€™s offensive coordinator and O’€™Keefe as wide receivers coach.

‘€œWorcester Academy was a special time,’€ said Philbin, who spent the previous three seasons as the Packers‘€™ offensive coordinator before being named head coach of the Dolphins last month. ‘€œI only spent one year there — Mike Sherman was an assistant coach on staff, Ken O’€™Keefe my receiver coach was the head coach, Kirk Ferentz, who I talked to Saturday, was an assistant coach on the staff.

‘€œI was very, very lucky,’€ he added. ‘€œMy dad always said it was the best money he ever spent. Like I said before, those guys inspired me to get into the coaching profession, I’€™m really lucky to have two of them on my staff right now.’€

Philbin’€™s parents live in Agawam, but he said that when it comes to his first trip to New England as a head coach this season, it’€™s going to be all business.

‘€œI’€™ve got great respect for what they’€™ve accomplished in New England, there’€™s no question about that — they’€™ve done a tremendous job,’€ Philbin said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine. ‘€œBut beyond, that it’€™s going to be a business trip. We’€™re going to ask our players to treat it as a business trip, so personal feelings aside, it’€™s going to have to be the same for me.

‘€œIt’€™s going to be one game out of 16-game schedule that we play in Gillette Stadium, and we’€™re going to do our best to have our team prepared as best as possible. So it’€™s not really about me, it’€™s about the Miami Dolphins.’€

It’€™s been an unbelievable stretch months for Philbin, who endured horrific tragedy in January when his son, 21-year-old Michael Philbin, was found dead in a Wisconsin river. Less than a month later, he was able to realize his professional dream of becoming an NFL head coach. He reflected on the emotional roller coaster Thursday.

‘€œIt’€™s been great seeing some familiar faces here the last couple of hours, but it’€™s been hard as well,’€ he said. ‘€œIt’€™s been the best of times and worst of times. I feel very fortunate — I have a wonderful family, a lot of tremendous friends I’€™m fortunate to have, I’€™m excited about this opportunity that Mr. Ross and Jeff Ireland have provided me, I’€™m anxious to build a program that our fans, our alumnus can be proud of, and I’€™m confident we’€™re going to do that.’€

Read More: 2012 combine, Bill Belichick, Joe Philbin, Ken O’Keefe
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