There have been countless coaches that leave the sidelines to join the media. In fact, it seems like ESPN hires a coach a day to sit and talk on one of its thousands of NFL studio shows.
The reverse is not nearly as common, though it does happen. Plenty of professional sports franchises have hired writers and analysts to work in personnel — the most prominent example being Mike Mayock, who never held an NFL personnel job until becoming the Oakland Raiders’ GM earlier this year — but not so much in coaching. Miami head coach Manny Diaz got his start as a grunt at ESPN, but after him the list is exceedingly short.
That list has now gained another entrant.
Travis Haney, formerly of ESPN and 247Sports, has joined the Charlotte football staff as an analyst, he announced Thursday.
As he details on his personal website, Haney was intrigued by Will Healy’s attempted turnaround at Austin Peay, often making the multi-hour trip from his home in Nashville to APSU’s campus in Clarksville to see the 2016 Governors team suffer through a winless season. Having been laid off from ESPN, Haney — who covered Oklahoma football for The Oklahoman and the Atlanta Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before covering college football nationally for ESPN and 247Sports — joined the Austin Peay family in a quasi-official capacity in 2017, chronicling the Govs’ 8-4 season for an as-yet-unproduced documentary.
Haney covered the Tennessee Titans for The Athletic last season, but walked away from that job to pursue a higher calling.
As Haney writes:
But, for 37-year-old me, something was missing. I’d experienced something entirely different, a brush with a purpose and a calling. And then it was gone. I had to find a way to again be in that place. After all, I’d told Will that he and his teams were stuck with me.
So, as that continued to weigh on me through this spring and summer, I eventually decided to make a bold, convicted leap toward happiness … toward what I felt I should be doing with my life.
Will understood. He knew what this meant to me and said, “C’mon, we’ll find a place for you.”
Actually, what he said exactly was, “Jump.”
Haney’s official title will be an analyst, but in reality that means, in his words, “if I can help the Charlotte Football program, however I can do that, I will.”
It’s an inspiring story on the power of friendship and football, and I encourage you to read it here.