The Times West Virginian

August 24, 2013

Michael cherished 30 years in coaching

By Mickey Furfari
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Mike Michael, following in the footsteps of his father, spent about 30 years as an outstanding football coach in both college and high school circles.

A native of Fredericksburg, Va., he came to West Virginia University as a walk-on and played as a free safety in 1970-71-72-73. He earned a letter in 1973 as a senior.

“Bill Stewart and I were on the freshman team and became close friends for a lot of years,” Michael said this week. Stewart later went on and finished up his college studies at Fairmont State.

You may recall that Stewart, now deceased, produced three 9-4 records as West Virginia’s head football coach from 2008-10.

“What a great man,” said Michael. “He was all West Virginia.”

The two served under WVU coach Don Nehlen. Both also were assistants together at Salem College for a short time.

Michael, who retired from coaching in 2009, now resides in Parsons. He is battling cancer.

His multitude of friends are wishing the highly respected, well-known coach all the best. He turns 62 in September.

Mike’s father, Joe Michael, who died in 1984, was the head football coach and a teacher at Buckhannon-Upshur High School for many years.

“It was great playing football for coach Bobby Bowden,” Michael said. “I also enjoyed being a graduate assistant on coach Don Nehlen’s staff.

“Both were great men and great coaches. But I thought Bowden was more of a laid-back type than Nehlen.”

“I was on the varsity team only three seasons,” Michael noted. “Bill (Stewart) and I had to play on a freshman team in 1970. But it was an enjoyable experience.”

Mike, who lived in Buckhannon before moving to Parsons, graduated from WVU in 1975. He earned a degree in physical education and safety.

His background has been in physical education.

His first head coaching job was a two-year stint at Tucker County High School. Then came his G.A. role under Nehlen and time at University High in Morgantown.

Then it was to Buckhannon-Upshur High School from 1985-95. After that 10-year stint, he went to Philip Barbour High School two years later for a three-year period.

Michael also coached at Greenbrier East High before calling it a career. He has no regrets whatsoever.

“I played quarterback and safety in high school in Stafford, Va.,” Michael recalled. “I really wasn’t very big at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds.”

Mike, who never married, has two adopted sons. Johnny, 28, works in Washington, D.C., at the Pentagon. Seth, 16, is a student at Tucker County High School.

“The decision I made to come to West Virginia, I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Mike Michael declared.

“I’ve done everything that I’ve loved to do.”