Minter passes on football lessons
College Football Share

Minter passes on football lessons

Former Carolina Panthers safety played for Tom Osborne and John Fox

Photo: Mike Minter

My Football Matters story from July 21, 2016 for the National Football Foundation

By Tom Shanahan

Mike Minter decided a couple years into NFL retirement that he gained too much knowledge playing for John Fox and Tom Osborne to settle for a life of playing golf and fishing.

His nine-year career playing safety for the Carolina Panthers included the franchise’s first Super Bowl under Fox in the 2003 season. At Nebraska, he played on Osborne’s national championship teams in 1994 and 1995. ... 

Mike Minter decided a couple years into NFL retirement that he gained too much knowledge playing for John Fox and Tom Osborne to settle for a life of playing golf and fishing.

His nine-year career playing safety for the Carolina Panthers included the franchise’s first Super Bowl under Fox in the 2003 season. At Nebraska, he played on Osborne’s national championship teams in 1994 and 1995.

When Minter first retired after the 2006 season, he started his own business. Mike Minter Enterprises focused on business consulting, construction and real estate. He also considered following Osborne into the U.S. Congress – Osborne served from 2001 to 2007 – before he later decided not to run for office in 2010.

But the lure of coaching and passing on the lessons he learns from two mentors remained too powerful to ignore. He was an assistant coach in 2011 at Johnson C. Smith, a historically black college in Charlotte, and in 2012 at Liberty in Virginia. In 2013, he was named the head coach at Campbell University, a Division I Football Championship Subdivision program in Buies Creek, N.C.

“I have a passion for people, and I can’t turn off,” Minter said. “When I was playing, I gave all I had to my teammates. Helping them grow was made for me. When I went into business, I poured myself into business, but it didn’t give me an opportunity to pour myself into people. That’s who I am. That’s what I’m about.”

He tells his players if their dream is to make it to the NFL, he will help them. But since such a dream is realistic to a small percentage of players, Minter considers his broader message delivered to all of his players more important.

“Only about one percent of the players from all schools have a chance,” Minter said. “What I tell guys is there is a formula to success. If you want to play in the NFL or be successful when you join the work force, there is a formula to follow. Once you learn that formula, no matter what profession you choose, you can make it happen. That’s what I teach.”

In addition to coaching, Minter teaches a leadership class. This is not an athlete no-show, easy-grade class.

“It’s one semester, three days a week and it’s intense,” Minter said. “Leadership is a skill that must be taught. Some people have natural tendencies toward leadership, but it must be taught.”

Minter is one of those with “natural tendencies toward leadership,” but he said he learned more about leading from Osborne and Fox.

Nebraska was a college football powerhouse when Minter joined the Cornhuskers and played as a true freshman in 1993 on a team that was 11-1 and ranked No.3 in the nation. They were national champs in 1994 (13-0) and 1995 (12-0) and 11-2 with an 11-2 record in 1996. He was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 2006.

“Coach Osborne was the master,” Minter said. “Now that I’m sitting in his chair, I think about the things he did in the 1990s. I t’s amazing how advanced he was. He taught us leadership, community service, the psychology of the game. People talk about (retired NBA coach) Phil Jackson and how he taught things. Coach Osborne was way ahead of him.”

Fox showed him how to build a program from the bottom up. The Panthers were 1-15 in 2001, Minter’s third NFL season. Fox only needed two seasons to get the Panthers to the Super Bowl XXXVIII. Carolina won four of its final five in 2002 to finish 7-9. In 2003, the Panthers won the NFC South with an 11-5 record and won two playoff games before falling to New England in the Super Bowl, 32-29.

“Coach Fox taught a 1-15 team how to compete at the highest level you can compete,” Minter said. “He used UCLA Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. That stuck with me, and I still use it to teach our guys to be competitive. He can sell anything, and he used his ability to communicate to get us to all buy in.”

Minter was hired to take over a Campbell program that finished 1-10 in 2012. He has guided the Camels to records of 3-9 in 2013, 5-7 in 2014 and 5-6 last year. The Camels are still seeking a breakthrough in the win column, but the 2015 team set two other milestones in the eight years of Campbell football.

One was defensive tackle Greg Millhouse signed with the New York Giants and long snapper Daniel Dillon signing with the Arizona Cardinals. The undrafted free agents are the first two Campbell players to sign with an NFL team.

In the classroom, a record five Campbell players were named to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Society for academics.

“We want to make Campbell a Division I FCS powerhouse,” Minter said. “It means you graduate all your kids, you develop young men that are leaders in whatever field they choose to go into. It means you are winning championships and sending your players to the NFL. We want to build a brand at Campbell.”

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I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055

Tom Shanahan, Author: Raye of Light http://tinyurl.com/knsqtqu

-- Book on Michigan State's leading role in the integration of college football. It explains Duffy Daugherty's untold pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

http://shanahan.report/a/the-case-for-duffy-and-medal-of-freedom

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer; "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."

Click here for the link to order from August Publications

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Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and Chargers.com. He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer, MLB.com, Rivals.com and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications


David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."