Del Miller ’72 recently retired after serving as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Kansas State University.
Miller’s career encompassed 45 years of coaching—38 years at the Division 1 level, including coaching in 20 bowl games and being a part of winning two Big Ten football championships and two Big 12 football championships.
A native of Marengo, Iowa, Miller played football at Central under Coach Ron Schipper, then began his coaching career in Iowa high schools. He coached at the University of Iowa with Hayden Fry from 1978-88, then moved to Kansas State.
Q: What stands out to you from your time at Central College?
Without question, the friendships made during this time with fellow classmates, other players and fraternity brothers. Many of these friendships continue today.
Q: How did your experience with Coach Schipper and Central football shape your coaching career?
Coach Schipper and Central College were highly successful in football and laid a good foundation for me to begin my career, which started at the high school level. Coach Schipper was a good mentor, instilling good coaching values to emulate as I got started. Coach Hayden Fry taught me if you want to be successful in whatever endeavor you attempt, duplicate what other successful people have done in your field. Coach Schipper was one of these guys.
Q: The relationship between coach and player is a defining part of Coach Schipper’s legacy. Is that something that impacted the way you interacted with your players?
He certainly had a positive impact on that aspect. Then as I was exposed to other coaches—such as Hayden Fry, Bill Snyder and many other head coaches and assistants—you begin to build your own identity working with young athletes. I always tried to conduct myself in the same manner I would if I were working with my own son.
Q: What are the significant differences in high school coaching since your days at Plainfield and Eagle Grove?
Being a high school coach is like being an extended father to a lot of young, impressionable athletes who have been entrusted to you by a parent or parents that in most cases love them very much. It is so important as a coach to be aware of what is happening with your players on and off the field and approach each athlete as an individual. We are not all the same. Be patient! And be a great listener! You are more to young athletes than Xs and Os!