Garrett Mack is a rarity among young and up-and-coming college football coaches.
He’s just 32 years old, but Notre Dame College feels he is ready to be the man in charge after he replaced Mickey Mental, who left to be offensive coordinator at Weber State.
This fall, Mack will lead the perennial Division II Top 10 program onto the field as head coach when it opens the season at Ashland in early September.
He’s also never had to leave the state while embarking on his coaching career. It’s not uncommon for young college coaches serving an assortment of roles in all corners of the United States prepping for a shot to be a coordinator or head coach.
Save for a few years at the start of his college playing career in Columbus, Mack rarely had to leave Northeast Ohio.
“I’ve moved one time since I’ve been in coaching – and it was Medina to Stow for me and my wife,” said Mack.
– Mark Podolski (@mpodo) March 16, 2022
A graduate of Brunswick High School who played and graduated from Baldwin Wallace, Mack is Northeast Ohio through and through, and that’s how he likes it. He began his college playing career at Ohio Dominican, then transferred to BW, where he graduated in 2015. His di lui last season di lui there in 2015, Mack worked as a student assistant.
The next year, he was the head coach at Oberlin High School, and then an assistant at Oberlin College in 2017 and 2019. There, he worked under the tutelage of Jay Anderson, a coach Mack calls a great influence. In between, he was the strength and conditioning coach at BW in 2018.
“It’s always been in my blood,” said Mack about his love of sports and now the joy of coaching. “I always knew I wanted to be a college coach.”
While cutting his teeth as a coach at Oberlin High School and the nearby College and also BW, Mack did just about everything. That array of responsibilities allowed him to juggle many jobs when he was hired as an assistant at NDC in 2020. His roles with the Falcons included being tight ends coach, and then in 2021 the run game coordinator, defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.
Up next is the challenge of continuing the success started by former head coaches Bill Rychel, Adam Howard, Mike Jacobs and then Mental, who left in February for Weber State.
“My end game here is win a national championship,” said Mack. “Bring a national championship to Cleveland. To bring the first football national championship to Cleveland, being a Northeast Ohio guy, that’s something special. “
NDC has enjoyed great success the past four seasons. It began in 2018, when the Falcons broke through with a 13-1 season and a spot in the NCAA Division II Final Four. An 11-2 season followed in 2019, then a 5-0 mark in the COVID-shortened season and then another 11-2 mark in 2021.
– Mark Podolski (@mpodo) March 16, 2022
With that 40-5 record since 2018, expectations will again be high in 2022. It all starts with quarterback Chris Brimm, who will be a rarity among all levels of college football when he takes his first start at Ashland in September. Thanks to an NCAA waiver because of the COVID season of 2020, Brimm – who has thrown for 9,163 passing yards and 89 touchdown passes at NDCL) will be the team’s starter for the fifth straight season.
“Very fortunate to have Chris,” said Mack. “Having a guy with his experience of him, his talent of him as a quarterback, as a leader, I’m blessed as a head coach.”
Now it’s up to Mack and his staff to continue that success and tradition that’s been built since the creation of the program in 2009.
“The biggest thing we’re emphasizing is all the things that happened in the past is great. We know we’ve had success, ”he said. “But the only thing that matters now is now. ‘Only now exists’ is our big slogan. What that means for our guys big picture you’ve got to worry about the moment. What can you do to beat Ashland? How can you be different than what you were in the past? What can do to be a little bit different to get us to that next milestone? “