Mike Nolan: A head coach is the parent, a coordinator is the big brother

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday January 17, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on January 17, 2013

Mike Nolan says it doesn't matter that he'll be facing off against his former employer in the NFC Championship Game.

The Falcons' defensive coordinator was the head coach of the 49ers from 2005-08, so he has a lot of relationships with people who will be on the other sideline this weekend.

But playing an organization that let him go isn't going to make the emotions any greater. He has a chance to go the Super Bowl, and that's all that matters, he told Atlanta media.

"When I first got in the league, I coached against my father who was also in the league too," Nolan said, according to a tra "I've coached against a lot of those guys on defense like (49ers defensive line coach) Jim Tomsula and (defensive backs coach) Ed Donatell and there are several other guys on that staff that I've worked with as well.

"The relationship thing, whether or not I've worked there, is everywhere I go now for the most part. There are a lot of people over there that I know but it doesn't change the competitive nature of the game and what we're doing. I don't want to sit here and tell you that it makes it any sweeter whether you win or lose. You want to win every week and I'm sure they do as well.

"There's nothing special in that regard. Like I said, I think it would be incorrect to say anything other than, for me, the reason I want to win is to go to the Super Bowl."

After Nolan was let go by the Niners, he transitioned back to being a coordinator, as many coaches do. His described what that was like and had a pretty good analogy I'm sure coaches would agree with.

"I think it's different for everyone," he said. "It wasn't hard for me but it is different for everyone. Being a head coach is like being the parent, and being a coordinator is like being big brother. That's really the transition you make. The head coach is the one that has to lay down the hammer, he's the one that has to call the shots on a lot of things and as a coordinator you have to be a soldier as well, you have to go back to being a soldier.

"It's not the same as being a position coach; it's kind of in the middle because you do still have to be the general, so to speak, over your coaches on the defensive side of the ball. I enjoy it. There is no better job than the coordinator's job. You can say what you want but for the head coach there are a lot of kinds of headaches and problems that don't even involve football that you have to do 24/7. As a coordinator you get to call the game and coach guys."



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to chris@coachingsearch.com

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.

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