Friday, July 20th, 2007
Lachey enjoys coaching for the Destroyers
By Gary R. Rasberry
Big games are nothing new to Jim Lachey.
The St. Henry native has played in a Super Bowl, winning with the Washington Redskins, was a commentator as his alma mater Ohio State captured the national championship against Miami, and if you want to go way back in the time machine, he was part of St. Henry's first state basketball championship team over 25 years ago.
But July 29 will present Lachey with a new wrinkle.
Lachey is the line coach for the Columbus Destroyers, who continue their Cinderella run through the Arena Football League postseason by playing in ArenaBowl XXI a week from this Sunday in New Orleans against the San Jose SaberCats, winners of the American Conference.
"It's a good feeling to play in games like this and be involved in the organization," said Lachey, who also serves as the team's Senior Vice President for Football Operations. "It's something, quite honestly, I'm used to being competitive and in the hunt."
It's been an amazing run for the Destroyers, who just barely made the playoffs as the sixth seed in the National Conference. Wins at Tampa Bay, coming in the final seconds of the game, top-seeded Dallas and second-seeded Georgia propelled the Destroyers to the title game with San Jose.
"The last four weeks have been crazy," said Lachey after a Destroyers' practice during the bye week. "Philiadelphia, New York, Atlanta, Dallas, then last week Georgia. It has been busy, but it's a great opportunity and honor to be still practicing."
Considering that the Destroyers went from 6-4 to finishing the regular season at 7-9, it's a great accomplishment to the team that they are still playing football.
"We still felt we were confident," said Lachey. "I had two rookies starting on the offensive line. I was hoping things got better as the season went and they have.
"It's one of those things where you keep chipping away, working hard and trying to improve the technique, hopefully at the end of the year you're battle tested. We've proved we're battle tested."
Lachey was a key part of bringing the franchise in from Buffalo. The coaching part came when new coach Earle Bruce, Lachey's coach at OSU, asked him to watch practice.
"It kind of fell into my lap," said Lachey. "At that time, I felt I could just sit back and watch the guys work and handle the front office type stuff. Coach Bruce asked me to stop by practice and spend time at camp with the line. Next thing I know, I'm the only guy down there to drill, the only coach left. I was like 'Hey, wait a minute!' I was kind of thrown into it.
"It felt, honestly, good to get back into it and hang around the guys. It was a lot of fun."
After spending a year commentating on games for Fox Sports, Lachey came back to his old job under coach Doug Kay.
"I was needed much more on the field. Not on the field, but on the practice field helping these guys," said Lachey.
A rule change this year allowed Lachey a little more latitude. This season free substitutions were permitted, meaning that instead of having five or six ironmen, he could bring in true offensive linemen rather than defensive linemen that would go both ways.
"The big change was coaching the defense," said Lachey, who made his living as a player as a tackle, something that Lachey quipped that he doesn't have with the Destoryers. "The first three years (as a coach), they were ironmen (playing the whole game). Basically, when we put our team together, you'd get a center and five other defensive linemen because you want to have as quick a pass rush as possible, then we would train those guys (to be offensive linemen).
"Now that I have two offensive linemen, I'm working a little bit more with the nuts and bolts. Where I had 100 Level classes with defensive linemen, I have 600-700 Level classes."
The important thing is, though, having the talent, which Lachey believes the Destroyers have to bring home a title.
"The most important thing it comes down to is all guys have talent and desire," said Lachey. "It's just the preparation for the game."