ATLANTA – Chan Gailey, a 26-year football coaching veteran, 12 of them in the college ranks and 14 in the National Football League, was named the 11th head coach in Georgia Tech football history, director of athletics Dave Braine announced Saturday at a 9 a.m. press conference.
Gailey, 49, has had success at every stop in his coaching career, including three seasons as a college head coach at Troy State and Samford University in Alabama, as well as two years as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and two at the helm of the Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football. He has made a name for himself as an innovative offensive mind during NFL stops in Pittsburgh, Dallas and Miami, among others.
“Chan Gailey is the right fit for Georgia Tech at this time,” said Braine. “Besides all the great qualities he possesses as a football coach, he’s an even better human being. I believe his soft-spoken manner will remind people a great deal of the legendary Bobby Dodd.”
Gailey has received a guaranteed five-year contract with a total annual compensation of $900,000. The contract also includes a guaranteed annual raise of four percent, but includes no buyout provision.
Now completing his second season as offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins under head coach Dave Wannstedt, Gailey will remain with the Dolphins through the end of the club’s season, including any playoff games.
He inherits a Tech program that has been to five consecutive bowl games, winning three of them, and has won 42 games over that period.
Gailey joined the Dolphins after spending the previous two years (1998-99) as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Under Gailey, the Cowboys compiled a composite regular season record of 18-14 in his two seasons, qualified for the playoffs both years, and captured the NFC Eastern Division title in 1998. In addition, the Cowboys finished in the top five in the NFL in both fewest turnovers and fewest interceptions in each of Gailey’s two seasons as head coach, including a number one ranking in both categories in 1998.
In Gailey’s first season with the Dolphins, he helped guide a running game which amassed 1,894 yards, the most by a Dolphins team since 1984. Lamar Smith finished tenth in the AFC with 1,139 yards rushing, the second-highest single-season total by a Dolphin, marking just the seventh time (fifth player) that a Dolphin has reached the 1,000-yard rushing plateau.
In the seven seasons that Gailey has been either a coordinator or head coach in the NFL, he has had a player attain the 1,000-yard rushing mark each time, including Jerome Bettis of the Steelers and Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys.
Before joining the Cowboys in 1998, Gailey spent the previous four seasons (1994-97) with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including each of the last two as offensive coordinator. His first two years there were spent tutoring the club’s wide receivers. In Gailey’s four seasons with the Steelers, the team won the AFC Central Division crown each time, appeared in the AFC Championship Game on three occasions and made one trip to the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh finished second in the NFL in rushing offense in 1996, averaging 143.7 yards per game. In Gailey’s final season with the Steelers, he presided over the league’s top-ranked rushing team, one that amassed an average of 154.9 yards per contest.
The NFL team with which Gailey has coached has reached postseason play each of the last seven years, a streak which could be extended if the Dolphins win one of their final two games this season, and 10 of his 13 seasons overall.
Gailey got his start in the NFL coaching ranks as an assistant with the Denver Broncos in 1985. He served as a defensive assistant and special teams coach in his first season there before moving to the offensive side in 1986. He served two years (1986-87) as the Broncos’ special teams and tight ends coach prior to taking over the task as quarterbacks coach in 1988. He was promoted to offensive coordinator/receivers coach in 1989, and served two years in that position.
During Gailey’s six-year stay in Denver, the team finished first or second in the AFC West on five occasions and made three Super Bowl appearances. Following his tenure in Denver, Gailey was named head coach with the Birmingham Fire of the World League in 1991, and in his two seasons there, the Fire qualified for the playoffs both times. A stop as head coach at Samford University in 1993 preceded his stint with the Steelers.
Gailey began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Florida in 1974, where he spent the next two years. From there, he moved on to his first full-time position, as secondary coach at Troy (Ala.) State, where he served from 1976-78. That was followed by a four-year stint (1979-82) at the Air Force Academy, the final two as defensive coordinator. He returned to Troy State in 1983 and spent the next two seasons there as the school’s head coach. He led the team to a Division II national championship in 1984.
In three years as a college head coach, Gailey has a record of 24-11, including a 19-5 mark in two years at Troy State and a 5-6 slate at Samford.
Born January 5, 1952 in Gainesville, Ga., Gailey was an all-state quarterback at Americus High School, and went on to letter three years (1971-73) as a quarterback at the University of Florida. He graduated from Florida in 1974 with a degree in physical education. Gailey and his wife, Laurie, have two sons, Tate (26) and Andrew (22).
Born: January 5, 1952 in Gainesville, Ga.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in physical education, Florida, 1974
College playing experience: Florida, quarterback from 1971-73 (no pro playing experience)
College coaching experience (12 seasons): Florida (graduate assistant) 1974-75, Troy State 1976-78, Air Force 1979-82, Troy State 1983-84 (head coach), Samford 1993 (head coach).
Record as a college head coach: 24-11
NFL coaching experience (14 seasons): Denver Broncos 1985-90, Birmingham Fire (WLAF) 1991-92, Pittsburgh Steelers 1994-97, Dallas Cowboys 1998-99 (head coach), Miami Dolphins 2000-01 (offensive coordinator).
Record as an NFL head coach: 18-14
What They Say About Chan Gailey
Dan Reeves, Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons
“It’s a great choice for Tech in my opinion because Chan has all the qualities you look for in a head coach. He’s been successful everywhere he’s been, and he’s learned under some great coaches. He’s done it all. He won a national championship at Troy State and was the head coach of the Cowboys. I think he’ll be great for recruiting the state of Georgia. I’m happy for him because I know how much he loves this state.”
Dave Wannstedt, Head Coach, Miami Dolphins
“I want to congratulate Chan on being named Head Coach at Georgia Tech. I’m sure he will do a great job in continuing the long tradition of success the school’s football program has enjoyed. I also know he is an outstanding coach who has been a winner on both the college and pro levels. I’m confident he will be a positive influence on the student-athletes he will coach there, and the school could not have picked a finer person for the head coaching position.”
“I think Chan has been a great addition to our staff. He has done a fantastic job here. Really, we haven’t spent a lot of high draft picks on high-profile players on the offensive side of the ball. He has had to mesh a group together really from scratch.”
Bill Cowher, Head Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
“Chan is an excellent football coach, and I could not be more happy for Chan and his family. I know Chan was looking forward to another opportunity to be a head coach, and getting that opportunity near his hometown should be extra special.
“His commitment, integrity and passion for the game will be evident in everything he does. Chan will be a positive influence on everyone he coaches.
“I wish him all the best.”
Jay Fiedler, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins
“I think Chan is one of the best around, and I’ve worked with a lot of them in different places. He’s a great communicator and is great at simplifying things to let guys go out and play football.”
Emmitt Smith, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys
“Chan Gailey is a very good football coach. He is also an outstanding person.
“From a football perspective, he taught me some things about the running game that I did not know, and he helped my career. He knows how to move the chains and control the tempo of a football game. He knows how to score points, and he knows how to win.
“Away from the field, he is a great person – about as solid a man as you are going to meet. He will have success at Georgia Tech, and I will be pulling for him.”
Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys
“Chan is the type of coach who can evaluate what a player’s individual skills are and then put that player in a position where he can make the best contribution to the team. He is very good at that. I know he did that with me when I came to the Cowboys, and I am grateful for his insight and the way he utilized my individual talents. It sounds simple, but not every coach is able to do that effectively. Chan is a master at getting the most out of each individual on the field, and that’s what a player is looking for in his coach.”