Sean McVay returned to his alma mater with his grandfather, John McVay, not far from his side.
John McVay passed away Oct. 31, 2022 at age 91, and couldn’t be at Miami University Saturday to watch his grandson join him as a member of the school’s famous Cradle of Coaches.
John was there in spirit, with a seat left open next to Sean McVay as Miami celebrated his coaching success at Yager Stadium.
Sean McVay, the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, became the 10th coach immortalized with a bronze statue on the south end of Miami University’s Yager Stadium. The statue was unveiled during a public ceremony.
““He was such a great influence on me,” McVay said. “A lot of the things that I’ve gotten a chance to be able to do are a result of the legacy that he built. Whether it was even coming here to play football, getting in the professional ranks. He always treated people so well. He had such a great humility and everybody that he came across, I don’t know that you’ll ever meet somebody that didn’t love John McVay.”
John McVay (Miami ’52), served in various roles with the San Francisco 49ers from 1980-1999, overseeing five Super Bowl championship squads and earning induction into the 49ers Hall of Fame in 2013. John played college football as the starting center in 1950-52 at Miami University under the direction of Cradle of Coaches inductee Ara Parseghian.
Sean and his grandfather became the only family to have two members inducted into the overall Cradle of Coaches, which now numbers 82.
“He epitomized being able to love people, develop and establish relationships that really are the only things that last,” Sean said. “And then he had character that was unmatched. Those are the two things that are the most important things in life. There’s no chance I’d be standing right here if it wasn’t for the legacy that he set. What a blessing it was to have such an amazing grandfather. And I know he’s looking down, smiling and this is all a result of the legacy that he set.”
McVay led the Rams to a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI in 2022, becoming the youngest (36) head coach in the history of the National Football League to capture a Super Bowl Championship. McVay played wide receiver for the RedHawks from 2004-2007, earning Miami’s Scholar-Athlete Award his senior season.
McVay joined the Rams in 2017 and led them to five-straight winning seasons. He is the second-fastest coach in franchise history to reach the 50-win mark and was named AP Coach of the Year at the age of 31 following his first year with the Rams.
He has compiled a 67-41 record as head coach in the NFL, as well as a 7-3 postseason record that includes two trips to the Super Bowl. The Rams have three division titles under McVay, and four of his assistants have been hired as NFL head coaches since 2019 (Matt LaFleur, the Bengals’ Zac Taylor, Brandon Staley and Kevin O’Connell).
Before joining the Rams, McVay spent seven seasons with Washington. He served as offensive coordinator from 2014-2016 and spent time as a tight ends coach (2011-2013) and an offensive assistant (2010). McVay also has spent time with the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League (2010) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2008-2009).
He will always be grateful for how Miami shaped him.
“I think it’s the people,” he said. “Being around people that positively push one another. I often go back to just the times that I have with my buddies. There was a curiosity. We’re always trying to challenge each other in the right ways. You get around people that are motivated, they’re driven to try to be able to excel in whatever field that they’re pursuing. That’s the thing that’s special about Miami. The people make this place special.”
How was the statue made?
McVay is the first coach to have a statue in the south plaza since current Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh received one in 2014.
Both statues, as well as the other eight in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza, were built by world-renowned bronze sculptor Kristen Visbal.
The sculptor was raised in the United States, attending the University of Arizona in Tucson and, in 1995, earning a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Salisbury State University in Salisbury, MD.
Visbal spent time with McVay in Los Angeles measuring every aspect of his face and frame. In every statue, she wanted to have a pose that represents who the coach is and how he handles himself on the sideline.
With McVay, the emphasis was on his reputation as a master strategist and thinker. The statue has his arms folded and one hand on his chin in a pensive mood.
“For those that know and have studied and read about his career offensive genius, you know how strategic he is,” said Miami Athletic Director David Sayler. “Plan all the time. Always thinking about the next thing and unbelievable in how he can recall the play and the situation. That represents a thinker, strategist. And that’s really what you’re going to see. Most importantly, though, I told Sean this statue is a link to all these other statues. We have young people that come here, visit our games every year, recruits that come into town. They might not know some of these individual coaches, but they know who Sean McVay is.”
The rest of the Cradle of Coaches
McVay’s statue joins the Cradle of Coaches that also includes Ara Parseghian, Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, John Harbaugh, John Pont, Carm Cozza, Bo Schembechler, Red Blaik, and Paul Dietzel.
McVay returns to Bengals country
In coming to the area to receive the honor from Miami, Sean McVay also returned to the Cincinnati area and countless fans of the Bengals team that lost to his Rams in Super Bowl LVI.
McVay’s former assistant coach Zac Taylor is the Bengals head coach, and McVay said he has been constantly reminded that his Rams took the championship from the Bengals this weekend.
“Oh, I got it already,” he joked. “Last night there was a lot of ‘Who Dey’ chants. And you know, I root for the Bengals, too, except for when we play them. Zac Taylor does a great job there. They’re on the way up.”