Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

MICKEY FURFARI

August 24, 2013

Column: Michael cherished 30 years in coaching

MORGANTOWN — Mike Michael, following in the footsteps of his father, spent about 30 years as an outstanding football coach in both college and high school circles.

A native of Fredericksburg, Va., he came to West Virginia University as a walk-on and played as a free safety in 1970-71-72-73. He earned a letter in 1973 as a senior.

“Bill Stewart and I were on the freshmen team and became close friends for a lot of years,” Michael said this week. Stewart later finished up his college studies at Fairmont State.

You may recall that Stewart, now deceased, produced three 9-3 regular-season records as West Virginia’s head football coach from 2008-10.

“What a great man,” said Michael. “He was all West Virginia.” The two later were graduate assistants for WVU coach Don Nehlen. Both also were assistants together at Salem College for a short time.

Michael, who retired from coaching in 2009, now resides in Parsons. He is battling a bout with cancer.

His multitude of friends are wishing the highly respected, well-known coach all the best. He turns just 62 in September.

Mike’s father Joe Michael, who died in 1984, was the head football coach and a teacher at Buckhannon- Upshur High School for many years.

“It was great playing football for coach Bobby Bowden,” Michael said. “I also enjoyed being a graduate assistant on coach Don Nehlen’s staff.

“Both were great men and great coaches. But I thought Bowden was more of a laid back type than Nehlen.”

“I was on the varsity team only three seasons,” Michael noted. “Bill (Stewart) and I had to play on a freshman team in 1970. But it was an enjoyable experience.”

Mike, who lived in Buckhannon before moving to Parsons, graduated from WVU in 1975. He earned a degree in physical education and safety.

His background has been in physical education.

His first head coaching job was a two-year stint at Tucker County High School. Then came his graduate assistant role under Nehlen while at University High School in Morgantown.

Then it was on to Buckhannon High School from 1985-95. After that 10-year stint, he went to Phillip-Barbour High School two years later for a three-year period.

Michael also coached at Greenbrier East High before calling it a career. He has no regrets whatsoever.

“I played quarterback and safety in high school in Stafford, Va.,” Michael recalled. “I really wasn’t very big at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds.”

Mike, who never married, has two adopted sons. Johnny, 28, works in Washington, D.C., at the Pentagon. Seth, 16, is a student at Tucker County High School.

“The decision I made to come to West Virginia, I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Mike Michael declared.

“I’ve done everything that I’ve loved to do.”

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MICKEY FURFARI