2 former JCU football coaches lead Rams to Super Bowl LVI victory

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) – John Carroll University proved it has earned its nickname as the NFL Pipeline once again as two former Blue Streak football coaches helped lead the Los Angeles Rams to victory in Super Bowl LVI.

Representing the “DIII Dreams” at “The Big Game” on Feb. 13 were Jonathan Cooley and Chris Shula.

And yes, that’s Shula as in the grandson of Don Shula, JCU Class of ’51, NFL’s winningest head coach, and only Blue Streak graduate to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Chris Shula was teammates with current LA Rams Head Coach Sean McVay back playing football at Miami University of Ohio.

After coaching at Ball State and Indiana, Shula was named JCU’s defensive coordinator in 2014.

The JCU NFL Pipeline is about to feel like a small world with this sidenote: Shula replaced Brandon Staley when he left for James Madison University before returning to University Heights soon after while Tom Arth was still the Blue Streaks head coach. Staley is now the head coach for the Los Angeles Chargers, who just named Arth their Pass Game Specialist.

[ Former JCU, Akron Head Football Coach Tom Arth named LA Chargers Pass Game Specialist ]

Shula coached the Blue and Gold in University Heights for just one season before sporting Blue and Gold for the Los Angeles Chargers as a defensive quality control coach.

McVay then called his former teammate up to be an assistant coach for the Rams.

After five seasons in Los Angeles, Shula is now the Rams linebackers coach.

But in his lone season coaching at Don Shula stadium named after his grandfather, Shula helped lead the Blue Streaks to the national quarterfinals and top ten scoring defense.

Cooley, JCU Class of ’11, ’14G, was also part of that season’s staff.

The four-year letter winner for the Blue Streaks was the starting defensive back from 2008-2010.

He was an assistant coach at Millikin University and Bluffton University before coming back to University Heights as a secondary coach from 2013-14.

During those two seasons, he earned his master’s degree and lead the Blue Streaks to rank in the top ten nationally.

Cooley then hopped over to the University of Kentucky before reuniting with now-former Chattanooga Head Coach Arth, then Kent State University, before ending his collegiate coaching career at Akron University.

He made his NFL coaching debut in 2020 when the Rams hired him as a defensive assistant before switching him to assistant secondary coach.

According to JCU Sports, “Cooley and Shula will become the 67th and 68th instances where Blue Streaks will participate in the Super Bowl and the 23rd and 24th unique individuals from the University to be present in ‘The Big Game’ over the last 56 years. This marks the 26th Super Bowl in 56 years with at least one representative from John Carroll University, including six straight years of at least two JCU representatives spanning from Super Bowl LI in 2017 until now. In all games, Blue Streaks hold an overall record of 40-26, though there have been three matchups over the years that featured familiar faces on both sidelines (Super Bowl XLVII ’13, Super Bowl LI ’17, Super Bowl LV ’21) .”

Click here to see all the instances JCU was represented at the Super Bowl.

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