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How to break into coaching with no experience and no connections, from an NFL assistant who did it

David Raih

So often in this job we are asked how to break into college football coaching by would-be coaches that have the desire to do the job but just don't have the connections. The short answer: show up. The long answer: do what David Raih did.

A former Iowa quarterback, Raih had moved from the game into a six-figure job selling medical devices in the Los Angeles area. Because selling medical devices is as exciting and fulfilling as it sounds, Raih filled his days dreaming of getting back into football. One day in 2008 Raih was in his apartment when he saw a local news report about Rick Neuheisel would be introduced as UCLA's head coach the following day, so he decided to show up and ask for a job.

“There was this kid sitting there until all the media asked their questions and then basically introduced himself and said, ‘Listen, this is going to sound way out of left field, but I’d like to talk to you about working for you,’” Neuheisel told Rob Demovsky of ESPN. “I said, ‘David, I’ve got a long list of guys that I’m more familiar with that I need to go through first, but I appreciate your interest.’

“And he said, ‘Well, is there any way I could just talk to you?’ I said, ‘I’ve got a lot of things to do right now, but you’re welcome to wait.’

“He sat there and waited outside my office for five hours.”

Neuheisel hired Raih, not before shooing him away with instruction to come back in two weeks if his senses hadn't returned, as an unpaid intern -- and gradually that unpaid intern ingrained himself into the staff, giving input into game plans and accompanying Neuheisel on recruiting trips.

He became immediately part of our family,” Neuheisel said. “It was a blast to have him around. Everybody who’s ever had him on their staff falls for the guy because he’s just got that way about him.”

Raih left UCLA to take a graduate assistant job at Iowa in 2010. From there he became the director of high school relations at Texas Tech, then receivers coach before a recommendation from Kliff Kingsbury landed him a job with the Green Bay Packers. Raih is now the Packers' assistant offensive line coach.

“On paper, it was insane [to leave Zimmer Inc.],” Raih said. “But you have to take your life -- and just this opportunity of your life -- seriously, and I do. You have to do what you want to do. You have to be out of your mind. I’m kidding, but you know what I mean? It’s not easy. You all know that. But there’s something about being in a really competitive business, it brings out the best in you. This was it for me -- football.”