Can John Bonamego Bring A Championship To Central Michigan?


After a fast and furious coaching search that began after Dan Enos fled Central Michigan to become the offensive coordinator at Arkansas, Athletic Director Dan Heeke has found his man.  Detroit Lions special teams coach and 16 year NFL assistant John Bonmego took over as the Central Michigan Chippewas head coach on Sunday.  A job he refers to as a “dream job.”

"“Since I left CMU in 1987, my dream job was to be the head coach of the Central Michigan football program. Today, that dream came true,” Bonamego said in a statement Sunday. “During my time here, I had some of the best experiences of my life and I expect to make many, many more in the coming years. The Mount Pleasant community is a very special place and my family and I are excited to be a part of it.”“It’s clear to me that this program has a very solid foundation. We will work every day to achieve the championship level,” Bonamego said. “Our team will compete with a strong passion and work ethic in everything we do, from on the field, to in the classroom and in the community. It’s a priority that we help our student-athletes develop into great young men who will make an impact on those around them for the rest of their lives.”"

John Bonamego brings something a little different to the table than the previous CMU head coaches.  Central Michigan seems to be a destination job for the 1987 graduate and he seems to have a genuine passion for helping the program regain its championship form.  The previous coaches, beginning with Brian Kelly, thought of CMU as a stepping stone to a greater opportunity.

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That is not to say that if John Bonamego has success over the next 5 years he wouldn’t move on to become the head coach at a power five program. But leaving doesn’t appear to be in his immediate plans. Winning does.

That is good news for the championship starved Chippewas who haven’t sniffed a MAC title since Butch Jones left town 5 years ago.  With the rise of Western Michigan’s program under the direction of head coach P.J. Fleck, Athletic Director needed to bring in highly credible head coach.  Bonamego’s 16 years as an NFL assistant should provide that.

"“John fully embraces the championship culture we’ve built here at CMU. Creating an exceptional experience for all our football student-athletes is a top priority for him,” Heeke said. “John has worked with some of the top coaches in football, and those individuals hold him in high regard. He knows what it takes to build a successful program and will do that here at Central Michigan.”"

Bonamego may have the passion needed to build a championship program but it may take a couple of season for him to build one.  Bonamego has been in the NFL for the past 16 seasons.  As a result he lacks some of the experience and contacts needed to build a strong recruiting network. To hit the ground running he will have to hire some experienced assistants to help shorten the learning curve.  There is no word yet on who Bonamego will retain from the previous staff but hiring process will be key to whether or not he can find early success.