Michael reflects on career
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 freshmen 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 9-3 regular-season records as West Virginia’s head football coach from 2008-10.
“What a great man,” said Michael. “He was all West Virginia.”
The two later were graduate assistants for 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 a bout with cancer.
His multitude of friends are wishing the highly respected, well-known coach all the best. He turns just 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 at UHS in Morgantown.
Then it was to Buckhannon-Upshur High School from 1985-95. After that 10-year stint, he went to Phillip 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.”