Former Georgia State coach Bill Curry gave Anthony Midget, Penn State's new safeties coach, his first serious opportunity in college football. After spending one season as a grad assistant at his alma mater of Virginia Tech, Midget took a job as Curry's DBs coach in 2008.
Curry played 13 seasons in the NFL and also enjoyed coaching stints at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky. He worked with Midget for five seasons and promoted him to defensive coordinator last year.
NittanyNation recently spoke with Curry about Midget.
NittanyNation: Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer recommended Anthony Midget to you back in August 2008. What did he say to you that convinced you Midget was right for the job? What made you think he was right?
Bill Curry: First of all, I have enormous respect for Frank Beamer. I was part of the broadcast crew for several games that Anthony Midget played in, so I watched how he conducted himself as a leader and as a player. He was an outstanding corner on a team that played on the national championship -- and almost won it. So, obviously, he was a solid citizen for a great program on a great football team. That's a lot of the currency that qualifies someone to learn how to coach.
The other thing that Frank told me is that Anthony had a passion for coaching football. And he had paid his dues as a high school coach in South Florida. Wow; that's another heavy credential. Football is taken very seriously there. And if you come out of Beamer's program, you take class and GPA very seriously -- and all those things were important to me. And then there was a recruiting component. Frank concluded by saying he's bound to be a terrific recruiter because he's funny and relentless. So it just made for an excellent opportunity. ... It was any easy decision to bring him in.
NN: In the five seasons you spent with him, how would you describe him? What was his personality on and off the field?
BC: Well, off the field, he is outgoing and he's humorous when it's the right time to be humorous. But he can be serious. He's tough as nails. So when he gets on the field, the humor's gone. He coaches football with great intensity; he expects everything out of everyone on every drill -- and sometimes the players have the same kind of issues with him that we'll all have as coaches. 'Gee, I thought this guy liked me. Why's he so tough on the field?' Well, I think you need to be able to turn it on and off from the time you hit the field, and that's what Anthony does.
The other thing about his personality is when he walks into a home, he just lights the place up. He's a great recruiter. He's not a good recruiter; he's a great recruiter. I think he'll really flourish being able to focus on a small number of people at Penn State.
NN: He's only in his mid-30s, but you promoted him to defensive coordinator last year. What did you see in him that prompted that promotion?
BC: I interviewed 16 guys, and I couldn't find anyone better than him. It wasn't a knee-jerk thing, it wasn't an automatic thing. I really wanted someone who was a veteran who had been a coordinator, and I had brought them in from all over the country. And they were good -- but they weren't better than Anthony, from my point of view. I'll tell you this: He's special; he's unique.
NN: Are there any times you spent with Midget that leap to mind, times when he really impressed you with what he was able to achieve with his coaching?
BC: Almost everything he does is beyond his years. There's no specific instance, but there's just the energy he exudes on the sideline. He was upstairs in our box the whole time and we were really struggling. And we brought him down to the sideline, and he just has an electric energy -- and that got conveyed to the players, and the guys responded. That was very significant. I can't point to one story, but one of his attributes that people will notice is his enthusiasm on the field and his intelligence off the field.
NN: You started coaching a major program in your mid-30s, and now so is Midget. Do you see yourself in him at all?
BC: Well, it would be a great compliment if I felt I did. ... He paid his dues at the high school level, and I think that's where you really learn about coaching and recruiting and transcripts and what it takes to get into a great school like Georgia State or Penn State. And I had to learn on the run; I think he's way ahead of the game. He's not your standard guy in his mid-30s who you hope will be a good coach. He is a sure thing. You can mark it down that I said Anthony Midget will become a great football coach.