Jan. 16, 2014
Over the next few weeks, UConnHuskies.com will take an in-depth look at the new football coaching staff head coach Bob Diaco has assembled. The series will include feature stories along with special edition episodes of "The Blitz" for each coach. Next up, Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Mike Cummings.
By Steve Lewis
With the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Eric Fisher, an offensive tackle from Central Michigan.
So who was Fisher's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach during his days at college? None other than UConn's new offensive coordinator -- Mike Cummings.
Cummings, who graduated from Buffalo in 1984, served as the Offensive Coordinator for the Chippewas over the past four seasons, creating one of the most statistically dominant offenses in the Mid-American Conference. In 2012, Central Michigan averaged nearly 400 yards of offense per game while scoring 30 or more points in ten games that season.
The former Chippewas' coach believes a lot of the offensive success the team had at Central Michigan can be similar to the success that UConn will have in the upcoming and future seasons.
"There's no doubt some of the offensive success we had there is applicable to this job," said the new offensive coordinator for the Huskies, who will also coach the tight ends. "We have to run the football and the next thing you do when you run, obviously you want to be balanced but you want to use that running game to set up a play action pass. You then control the passing game and can throw it down the field.
"You've got to be able to do those things, you've got to take your shots down the field."
Fisher, who was coached by Cummings, earned All-American Honors from the Associated Press, as well as became the highest NFL draft pick in MAC and Central Michigan history. Cummings also coached four other All-Mid-American Conference offensive linemen over the past three seasons, earning him a reputation for being an offensive wiz.
In the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Central Michigan's passing attack was ranked in the top 25 nationally, averaging 284 yards and 274.2 yards per game respectively.
Prior to Central Michigan, Cummings was the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Marshall from 2005 to 2009. At least one Marshall offensive linemen earned All-Conference USA honors in each of his five seasons coaching.
The new Husky offensive coordinator moved around quite a bit before Marshall, which included one or two year periods at Central Michigan, Millersville, Michigan State, and Eastern Michigan, which is where he met new UConn head coach Bob Diaco.
In the 2001 season, Diaco was the running back and special teams coach at Eastern, which is when Cummings was in charge of the defensive line, but also helped out on special teams.
"Coach Diaco and I have always been great friends. I always respected him as a coach, his energy, and also our families are close," said Cummings. "We did things off the field because our children were the same age, maybe there's a couple years difference, but we always got together. I knew him not only as a coach, but as a human being."
It will take some time for Cummings and Diaco to get familiar with the offensive challenges that the Huskies had last season, but Cummings admits that he has been a UConn fan for some time and is somewhat familiar with this past season.
"I wouldn't say I have first-hand knowledge, but I watched Connecticut play their last two games. That may sound crazy but I really did, and I've actually been a fan of Connecticut football since we were at Eastern Michigan," said Cummings.
Cummings also seemed pleased with the play of redshirt freshman Casey Cochran in those games. "I watched the quarterback that played in the last two games. He seems like quite a competitor from what I saw on the field," said Cummings.
He believes that anything in the game of football is possible with some hard work and a dedicated attitude.
"A long time ago I coached a player that was a walk-on, and that walk-on ended up getting a scholarship. That's a good story because this guy only played one year of football because he was from South Africa," recalls Cummings.
"He was a state champion weight-lifter and he joined the team. By his senior year, he had the ability and opportunity to play for us. Seeing that development right there was a good indicator to never give up on anybody. Obviously he wasn't the most talented player, but I think you can take anybody and develop them to some extent to be a great player.
"He was humble, he was a hard worker and so forth and that kind of confirms what happens when people are tough and they work hard."
Even though coaching and watching film are the things that Cummings likes to do the most, he likes spending time with his wife and two daughters. His daughter, Elizabeth, works in Philadelphia and his youngest, Emily, is going to be a sophomore at Michigan State.
As for him and his wife, "Whenever we get free time, we like to go to the shore. We like to get out a bit in the summer and just hang around with friends," said Cummings.
With some of the relationships Cummings has formed with co-workers on the job, his work life and social life often are combined. "Actually, we like to hang around with coaches off the field."