Orlando, Fla.----- For 40 years, San Jose State University football defensive coordinator Greg Robinson gathered young college student-athletes and adult men in jagged half crescent rows of human arcs, identified their strengths in the game’s chaotic environment, created a controlled tempo of intuitive and fast-paced learning, and produced winners in sports and in life.
Robinson will take the Spartans’ defensive unit into the Citrus Bowl against Georgia State for the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl, Saturday, December 19, 7:00 p.m. in his final game as a college football coach. His future plans include spending more time with his family that includes three grandchildren.
“It dawned me (summer of 2015) when I was home and had my grandkids out from New York, I was having a great time. As I was driving back to training camp, it was a killer for me leaving them. It was then I started thinking I want to be a part of all that. It’s wonderful time spent. You want to be remembered by your grandkids. That plays a big part of it,” says Robinson of his decision to step away. He and his wife, Laura, have a home along the picturesque Central California coastline in Carpinteria Beach, about 4.5 hours south of San Jose. “We would like to take advantage of it as well.”
TWO SUPER BOWL AND FOUR ROSE BOWL VICTORIES
The 64-year-old Los Angeles native and fifth of eight children is coaching in his 17th season of bowl game or National Football League playoff competition at the AutoNation Cure Bowl. He was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII championship teams in 1997 and 1998. Among eight victorious bowl teams, Robinson was an assistant coach on three UCLA and one University of Texas Rose Bowl champions.
“I liked the idea of being able to give back. I was a walk-on player who basically earned a scholarship. From the minute I decided to become a coach, I always believed in my mind that in the coaching world, I was gonna be that scholarship guy,” Robinson said in a 2004 interview for texassports.com. “I had the talent, and so I decided I was going to give it a go. And you know what? I never looked back.
"You learn so much in the game of football about yourself -- in those quiet moments that only you could know. That's why I got into coaching, because I could see that I could inspire people. I knew I was intelligent enough to learn the game. I liked the thought of getting to coach young people. I knew I could do it, and do it well.”
Robinson’s college playing career as a non-scholarship linebacker and a tight end at the University of the Pacific began in 1972. The son of a World War II B24 bomber pilot could claim current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll as a close friend, teammate and a roommate. And, he would later serve as Dick Vermeil’s defensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs. Robinson, Carroll and Vermeil are among a select group of football coaches to win a Rose Bowl and a Super Bowl.
The genesis of Robinson’s coaching career was at Pacific in 1975 as an assistant coach. Two years later, he was an assistant coach at Cal State Fullerton. Robinson spent two seasons (1980-81) as the linebackers coach at North Carolina State.
ROBINSON RECRUITS SAN JOSE STATE COACH CARAGHER TO UCLA
Then, it was back to the West Coast and close to his boyhood roots at UCLA. During his eight seasons with the Bruins, he was a defensive line coach for seven of them and the offensive coordinator in his final season of 1989. In between, he would recruit a lanky quarterback from San Jose’s Bellarmine Prep, current San José State football head coach Ron Caragher.
“It’s tough to see Greg go. I have a relationship that goes back to him recruiting me out of high school going to UCLA. We go back 25-30 years. I’m very thankful for the opportunity then and it was a privilege and an honor to hire him to be part of my staff at San Jose State,” says Caragher.
“What he brings to the table is energy and enthusiasm, his knowledge and the pedestal that he has with his coaching resume of multiple Super Bowl and Rose Bowl victories. If somebody asked me to describe Greg, it would be ‘energetic.’ He passes that on and keeps his guys energized and enthusiastic. We will miss him.”
Robinson took on the challenge of coaching in the National Football League from 1990 through 2003 with the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Two stints at the University of Texas (2004, 2013) sandwiched four seasons as the Syracuse University head coach (2005-08) and two seasons as the University of Michigan defensive coordinator (2009-10). He returned to Northern California in 2014 and was reunited with Caragher as San Jose State’s defensive coordinator for the last two seasons of a five-decade coaching career.
“I suspect I’ll always find a role in football. To what extent, I don’t know,” says Robinson. “If I can work from home and be truly helpful to a team, I think I would be very happy doing that. I have to test the waters and see what kind of plan I can put together. It’s also a good time for Laura and I to do a little traveling (not related to football).”
With an attacking and creative defensive scheme tethered to belt loop at the AutoNation Cure Bowl, he’ll add to the more than 600 games he’s coached since 1975 – the year Carlton Fisk was waving his World Series blast over Fenway Park’s Green Monster fair. For Greg Robinson, his football coaching career is fair by plenty.