When the news of his potential hire was first reported on Friday evening, many people had no idea who exactly John Bonamego (pronounced bon-a-ME-go,) was. Yes, they might have known that he was the special team coordinator for the Detroit Lions, but who likes special teams anyways?
Following the official announcement on Sunday, that sentiment was confirmed, as many people did not like the coaching hire, believing that CMU settled and "just filled the role" as one Twitter user put it.
Bonamego has no head coaching experience, and has not been in collegiate football since 1998, which may as well have been a century ago with all of the developments in the college game since then. However, a little look into his coaching resume might convince a few people to change their minds.
Bonamego, who grew up in Paw Paw, MI, was a quarterback and receiver at CMU from 1985-87, walking on to the squad and earning a varsity letter in his tenure. Upon graduation, he went on to be an assistant at Mt. Pleasant HS, before being hired as a player/coach in Verona, Italy. Stints at Maine, Lehigh, and Army would follow in the next nine years, with Bonamego helping the Army Black Knights to their only 10-win season in program history, as well as a top-25 ranking in 1996 as an assistant head coach.
The NFL came calling after that, with Bonamego picking up his first job with the newly-formed Jacksonville Jaguars. Per the press release:
In his first season as special teams coordinator, the Jaguars were ranked third by the universally respected Dallas Morning News special teams rankings. The Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship game in 1999 after winning the AFC Central title.
Bonamego has also had rousing success coaching kickers, as his 2004 Packers squad had four game-winning field goals, and developed Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields, Bryan Anger, and Sam Martin into some of the best specialists in the game, with Martin being the 2nd best statistical punter in the NFL last season. Bonamego was also part of the New Orleans Saints' post-Katrina season, most memorable for the Stevie Gleason punt block return touchdown.
Over the years, Bonamego has served under many brilliant coaches. Maybe you've heard of a few of these guys: Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, Jim Caldwell, Kirk Ferentz, Mike Sherman, Bob Sutton, and Tony Sparano. In his 27 years of collegiate and professional experience, with 16 of those years served in the NFL.
Bonamego is known for being a player's coach. Sparking up some creativity with the team, he would use unique forms of motivation in practice and throughout the season, including distributing "Bono Gear" to players that would meet certain goals that the coaches would set.
There's a quote from Bonamego in the CMU press release:
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. 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."
Coach Bonamego will be formally introduced by the Central Michigan Athletics Department Monday, February 9 at 2:30 p.m.