Miami, OH Head Football Coach Don Treadwell Once and Always a Spartan

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Don Treadwell is a great coach, but an even better husband and father and the Spartan Nation is proud of him.  Photo courtesy of Miami, OH SID.
Don Treadwell is a great coach, but an even better husband and father and the Spartan Nation is proud of him. Photo courtesy of Miami, OH SID.

 

Don Treadwell is and always will be a Spartan. A great teacher of men and an even better man himself, the well-traveled coach is the new head coach of the Miami (OH) RedHawks. After four years serving the Green and White under Mark Dantonio, Coach Treadwell took the Miami job. With lessons learned from many great coaches such as Jim Tressel and Coach Dantonio, Treadwell is ready the lead the RedHawks.

           Don Treadwell was born and raised in the cradle of coaches: Ohio. A native of Oberlin (a small city of 8,000- about 40 minutes away from Cleveland) Treadwell was Oberlin High School’s star quarterback in high school. Upon his graduation in 1978, the young star headed for Miami University. At the school where so many legendary head coaches (such as Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, and Sid Gillman) found their start, Don Treadwell found his.

During his four year stint with the RedHawks, Treadwell shined at wide receiver. A four year starter at wide out, he racked up 73 catches for 1,540 and a school-record 21.1 yards per catch average. During his time at Miami, Treadwell decided that he wanted to be a coach. Following his graduation from Miami, the future coach tried to land a roster spot with the Cleveland Browns. When he was unsuccessful, Treadwell took a graduate assistant job with his former coach at Miami, Tom Reed.

After coaching one year under Reed at North Carolina State, Treadwell took a part-time assistant coaching job at Dayton. In 1986, Coach Tread was rewarded with a full time assistant coaching gig by his former position coach at Miami, Jim Tressel. In the longest coaching stint of his career, Treadwell coached at Youngstown State until 1991. During his six years coaching for the Penguins, he served as the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers coach. He even became the offensive coordinator in 1991.  

Treadwell was truly inspired by Tressel in his time coaching with him. When asked on Spartan Nation Radio what he learned from the man, Treadwell replied: “Certainly he had a chance to impact me in two different phases of my life. Jim Tressel, first and foremost, when I was a player here (of all places- at Miami University), he was my position coach for two years. So, little did I know at that time that Jim actually was modeling, if you will, to me…what a true, authentic coach-player relationship really could be.” Coach Tread continued: “And I just assumed that, because I was naïve as a college athlete… everyone had a great position coach that they got along with that had their best interests at heart and could motivate you easily game to game. And so [he ’s] one of my first guys when I got into college that I learned from and we became very close at that time.”

One thing that Coach Tread picked up at YSU from his beloved mentor was this: “During the time you spend coaching, enjoy the journey. I think sometimes we allow ourselves to get so far ahead (because we’re all so goal oriented- win the championship, etc. and those are important: you gotta have goals) but Jim really taught me (and I was thankful at a young age- I was 30 something years old maybe at that time) don’t get so far ahead that you forget to appreciate the journey along the way.” What does Jim Tressel think of Treadwell? “Don Treadwell, first of all, is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met.” 

           Over the next eight years, Treadwell bounced around at five different schools. In 1992, he headed back to his alma mater, serving as RB and WR coach there for two seasons. He also made stops at Cincinnati, Stanford (under Tyrone Willingham), Boston College (under recently retired Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning), and North Carolina State. In 2000, Treadwell became acquainted with the Green and White. Taking a job as the Spartans receivers coach, Treadwell served under MSU head coach Bobby Williams for three seasons.

Coach Tread then spent one year at Ball State before reuniting with Mark Dantonio. Treadwell was Coach Dantonio’s offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. When Dantonio departed for Michigan State after the 2006 season, Treadwell followed.

           Don Treadwell established himself as a great Spartan over the course of the next four years. He took over the team’s offensive unit and turned it into one of the best in the Big Ten. The offense featured a 2,000 yard passer (Brian Hoyer), a 1,000 yard receiver (Devin Thomas), and a 1,000 yard rusher (Javon Ringer). The next three seasons were more of the same, as Treadwell coached much of the top offensive talent in the Big Ten. Coach Tread established himself as one of the best offensive coordinators in the conference.

In addition, when Coach Dantonio was forced to take time off because of a heart attack in September of 2010, Treadwell stepped up to assume the reins. He was 4-0 in the games in which he manned the sidelines in place of Coach D. Because of that, Coach Tread was nominated for the Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant coach.

           As Michigan State prepared for the 2011 Capital One Bowl, Miami Athletic Director Brad Bates contacted Treadwell. The new Miami head coach describes the experience of being told the job was his: “It’s still hard to describe. You’re just so appreciative for an opportunity for me to basically give back.”

Treadwell went on to describe why he chose to accept the job: “As I’ve said many times, Miami University for me was such a unique experience when I was here as a student athlete that now, as I fast forward and have an opportunity to lead the program here and now, what I want to afford every young man on our football program to have that same type of atmosphere to flourish, in where he can look back four or five years from now and say just like Don Treadwell did when he was done here- ‘That was four or five of the best years of my life during that time frame I was at Miami University.’”

           Coach Tread’s decision to leave Coach Dantonio and Michigan State was surely a tough one for him to make. Certainly some of the best years of his 27 year coaching career have been at Michigan State. When asked, Treadwell evaluated on what he learned from Coach D: “There’s a lot of things there because he’s probably the one who I’ve spent the most time with, so there probably wouldn’t be enough hours in the day to share it all.”

Coach Treadwell and Coach Dantonio are very close. In fact, Treadwell has a great deal of respect for Dantonio: “Mark just has a way about him, he’s very authentic.... And I think Mark has always been that way, number one. So it’s been neat for me to watch Coach Dantonio grow from always a very close friend, outstanding defensive mind, position coach, to coordinator (when he was at Ohio State) and seeing that team just dominate on defense, and then to join him way back when he took his first job at Cincinnati and see him grow as a head coach from there. And then take the Michigan State job and continue to grow and just never change, though in terms of his treatment and sincere care for people. That’s been the lasting impression upon me. His true ability to care for his staff and care for his players…it’s an abundance…. That’s just been awesome to see someone model that for you as an individual in a leadership role.”

           Still, however much Coach Tread will miss coaching the Green and White, he is excited for the challenge of running his own program. Right now, Treadwell has a team that is what he likes to call a “young, experienced team”. With the new man at the Miami helm, the Red Hawks should be in for a heck of a ride. Jim Tressel certainly thinks so: “He’ll just do a fabulous job for Miami.”

When Coach Treadwell talks about Miami University, his energy and enthusiasm shine through: “We have always been able to move forward both academically and as well as athletically. And I think you would find as you look here in our overall picture, one of the neat things that I’m just glad to be a part of (that our athletic director Brad Bates has started here) and that Miami University is in the process of developing a Culture of Champions.” Treadwell elaborated: “I’ve always made reference to the fact that Miami has always been, in my opinion, the jewel of the MAC because we provide what so many schools seek to do or wish they could do, and that is provide academic excellence with great athletic achievement. And I tell you what, when you can walk down the aisle way from graduation and know you’ve got just almost basically referred to as a “Public Ivy League degree” and then also walk away with championships, well then that’s hard to beat and turn away for a family that really is looking for the best in both areas.” After reading this, it is not surprising that Treadwell decided to return to his alma mater: Coach Tread has a true love for the university.

Though Coach Tread has made 13 stops in his long coaching career, he has still been a great husband and father. Married to his beloved Lola, Treadwell is the father of three children. One of his sons, Blake, is well-known as a football player at MSU. In an interview with Spartan Nation last year Blake had this to say about his father: “My father is my friend, we’re very close now: he’s exactly what I want to be. But it’s not really fair to use the word friend because people won’t understand. He’s my father first. He didn’t tell me yes, he didn’t give me everything I wanted, but he gave me everything that I needed. The greatest gift that my father gave me besides faith was the fact that he was a father first. I could never be more thankful for him for being a man and being my father.”

Still the humble father of three gives a great deal of the credit to his loving wife.

Coach Treadwell will always and forever be a Spartan. Overall, Don Treadwell is thankful for MSU, Coach D, and the many people who helped him along, as he told Spartan Nation Radio: “We’ve certainly been blessed. And I think that kind of summarizes a lot of where I’ve been and where I’m at today. It’s because a lot of good people…the Dantonios of the world. And I’ve been privileged also to have people like yourself, Hondo, that we’ve grown a great friendship with. And it’s just been really unique along the way to enjoy that journey.”

           Spartan Nation would like to extend its thanks to Don Treadwell for seven great years and wishes him good luck in the rest of his coaching career.

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