Up next in our “New England Roots” series: Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr. Born in Framingham, raised in Medway and a former Boston College baseball captain, they don’t come much more New England than Carmichael.
The son of the late longtime football coach, who assisted three different Boston College coaches (Joe Yukica, Jack Bicknell and Tom Coughlin) and then went onto coach in the NFL with the Jaguars and Browns, Carmichael was a baseball star for the Eagles before moving into football coaching. He’s been an NFL assistant since 2000, and Sean Payton‘s right-hand man and Drew Brees tutor with the Saints since ’06.
BSJ: You grew up in Medway. What was youth sports experience like there when you were growing up?
PC: For our family, it was a great town. It was a close-knit community. I think it’s grown quite a bit since I lived there but overall, you’d say it was a passionate sports town just like all the towns up there for the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. But as far as youth sports, we moved back to Medway when my dad went back to coach at Boston College, so I was 9 when we moved back there. I got involved in the sports there and I was fortunate to have some great coaches. And, really, it was where you started to build your friendships and relationships that you still have today. They were passionate about their youth sports. I thought they did a great job, had great facilities and so it was great to go up there.
I was involved in baseball and basketball. I didn’t play football until high school. And then as far as hockey, I gave it a try as a young kid and my dad let me know who the good players were out there and I wasn’t one of them. (laughs) So that didn’t last very long.
What’s your most vivid youth sports memory?
I would say it was Little League baseball. When you’re 10, you’re starting to enter Little League baseball and the way they did it then, when you were put on a team, you were with that team for the next three years. And so you ended up having a lot of pride in your team and really started to build some relationships. My greatest memory was after the last year, at age 12, they formed an all-star team and the kids you’re competing against, you’re getting together and competing against other towns. That summer we had a really good team and traveled around, playing every day and it brought the families really close together. We had a really good team and only lost one game the whole summer. Unfortunately, it was a game I pitched. But I can just remember, you were playing with the kids you would be playing with through high school.
My senior year in football was 1993, and for Thanksgiving, it snowed and they postponed most of the games. We beat Millis and it’s snowing and I win MVP. I definitely didn’t deserve it because I think the people who were voting on it didn’t come to the game because it was so cold and snowing and just assumed the quarterback should win it. I know my first pass went back for a pick-six, but we ended up winning 21- or 23-6. Chris Magliaro, who I’m still best friends with today, I played Little League with him, he had a kickoff return for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass, but I got the MVP. Chris was robbed.
Favorite Boston sports team growing up?
I was a big baseball guy so my favorite team was the Red Sox. I was born in Framingham but we had moved to New Jersey for a couple years, then New York. Just about that age was when I started getting into it, so there was a period of time when I was a big Yankees fan. But when we moved back to Massachusetts I quickly became a Red Sox fan and still am today. And since my dad was coaching there at the time, Boston College football was big for me.
Favorite Boston sports athlete growing up?
Mine would have been Doug Flutie. Just being around him, being in that environment, just knowing the type of person he was. I was always a big (Larry) Bird fan, and with the Red Sox, I loved Marty Barrett, being a little middle infielder myself.
So I guess you were around those Eagles teams quite a bit.
My dad coached the defense for Jack Bicknell and he had two sons, so by the time I got to be 12, 13, Jack Jr. was a player for BC and then Bobby was old enough to play high school at that time and couldn’t go to the BC games so I became the cord guy for Jack Bicknell. When I was 12, that 1984 season I got to travel to every game. The only I missed was West Virginia, so I was next to Jack Bicknell holding his cord when Flutie threw that pass.
I wasn’t really sure how to react. I was 12 years old and looked around because Jack might have been the only guy who didn’t run onto the field. So I just kind of stood there and I didn’t really know what to think I guess. But it was pretty amazing and I remember the flight home and how excited everybody was.
I guess that would be your favorite memory of a Boston sports event?
That was definitely it, for sure. My dad was on the defensive side of the ball and you run into the locker room and everybody’s celebrating and having a good time. We have a video of everyone going nuts in the locker room, and then my dad comes in and he stands up on a table and yells, “Great job defense!” I think he was being sarcastic a little bit because it was 47-45 and it was up and down the field for the offenses.
What is your favorite Boston sports venue?
I think Fenway Park would be my favorite. They were all great venues growing up but the thing I remember most about Fenway is when I was at BC playing baseball and having an opportunity to play there a few times each year. And going there with my dad, going to batting practice early and trying to catch foul balls. I just have a lot of great memories there.
Boston sports team you keep the most track of?
Definitely the Red Sox. My kids keep tabs on all the teams up there but I still follow the Red Sox. My wife’s family is also from up there so her dad is a big fan for all teams so he’s usually calling me and telling me about trades and what’s going on. Just like any guy up there he’s got his opinions. But for me, definitely, the Red Sox.
What’s the one thing you miss most about New England?
It’s not the weather. My wife and I, we were in San Diego for four years and now ready to go on 13 here in New Orleans so we’ve gotten used to the warm weather, but my family is what I miss the most. Every year around Christmas time my wife and kids get to travel up there. Obviously, I don’t get the opportunity to join them, but my kids get their fix of snow and then back down to the warmth. It’s definitely the family.
We’ve seen other offensive coordinators get head coaching jobs, like Doug Pederson, Sean McVay and Frank Reich… given the great season the Saints just had and a promising team this season, your name is sure to get mentioned next offseason. Is being a head coach something you aspire to?
I would. I think that’s ultimately my goal. I haven’t been in a rush – I’ve been fortunate when we came to San Diego to New Orleans in ’06, my son was in second grade, my daughter was going into kindergarten and we have a younger one. It’s rare in this business where my son is now in college, my daughter will be going into her senior year all in one place, so from that perspective, we’ve been very fortunate. And obviously being with Sean Payton and Drew Brees, that’s pretty special and I’m lucky. So that’s not something I’m in a hurry for but somewhere down the road I’d like that opportunity.
How special was last year … right up until the last play of the season against the Vikings?
Love the character of this football team. We started out 0-2 and then we go to Carolina, a divisional game, and then all of a sudden, things started to click. We went to London right after that and maybe that brought us closer as a team as well. But love the character of this team and we had a good season. Obviously, it didn’t end how we wanted it to. We were close, but credit to Minnesota for that game. I think we feel good about some of the youth that we have on this team and really looking forward to next season.
The New England football community was sorry to hear about your father’s passing two years ago. He was obviously a fixture around here.
I appreciate that. My mom’s still in Mendon and I have a sister in Holliston who lives in Jack Bicknell’s old house, another sister in Shrewsbury. So, with all the grandkids it keeps her busy. The nice thing is we have so many great memories of my dad and I think that really keeps my mom happy and going. We’ll be back as a family this summer.
I got an email from one of my high school buddies just a couple of weeks ago and he was talking about Cassidy Field and the improvements they’ve made there, and the new high school and the facilities. I haven’t been back of late, but this summer when I get home I want to go visit all that.