The name Pagano is currently one of the most well-known in the coaching profession. Chuck Pagano is the head coach for Indianapolis Colts and John Pagano is the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers.
But long before the brothers Pagano began patrolling NFL sidelines their father Sam built a legacy as one of the all-time great high school coaches in the state of Colorado. He guided Fairview high from 1969-1989 and won three state championships along the way before heading to Europe to coach semi-professional football in the mid-nineties. He finally hung up his whistle for good in 2002 and now he spends his time observing his family members on the gridiron. That means trips to Indianapolis and San Diego to watch his sons… and every Friday night watching Fairview where his daughter Peach's sons Carlo and Mariano currently play.
Tthe elder of the two grandsons, Carlo Kemp, has emerged as one of the mountain regions most coveted prospects. The 6-3, 255-pounder is relying on his grandad (whom he calls his best friend) to help guide him through the process.
“Well I think I have experience (with recruiting) being the head coach at Fairview,” Pagano stated. “We sent over 25, maybe 30 kids to division-one schools. We had like two go to UCLA, five to USC, 15 to Colorado, one Tennessee… they went all over the place. So I just use the same (advice). I know recruiting has changed, but I use the same things… the type of coach you want to work with, and of course the education you’re looking for. Carlo is a good student and education is really important to him. “
During the summer Kemp whittled his lengthy list of suitors down to a group of finalists that best met his list of criteria. Cutting it down further will be more difficult.
“I think the four schools that he has got right now are great academically,” Pagano stated. “UCLA, Colorado, Michigan, and Notre Dame. And he doesn’t have a (fifth school). And if someone came along I think it’s so late… I said, ‘why do you need another one? You only could go to one, so why make it (more confusing). If you can get it down to two or three it will be a lot easier.’"
“But he is close (to the end). I (told him), ‘let’s concentrate on playing for Fairview and don’t worry about all of the phone calls and all the things like that. It will happen for you late in October or November.’ I know he is not going to go to February 3rd. He wants to enroll early wherever he goes, so he is probably going to have to decide in October or November.”
Kemp will visit all four of his finalists officially before arriving at that decision. Those trips will give the talented youngster and his tight knit family another opportunity to assess the importance of distance in his final choice.
“I think of things like that… you know… flying around and how expensive that gets,” Pagano stated. “But you know what… whatever makes him happy. He is the one that has got to go to class. He is the one that has got to go to practice. We did talk about if he did go away or if he did stay right here in Colorado. ‘You know if you go away we’re to going to be there every week unless someone gives us a Learjet.’ And we’re not going to be doing that, so if he stays at home that would be great.”
If you’re thinking that means grandad favors Colorado, you’d be wrong.
“(My favorite) is not in the four, Pagano said laughingly. “It’s not one of the four. But whatever he picks that’ll be my favorite and I’ll back him 100%, and my wife will. The whole family (will).”
Part of Michigan’s appeal is the relationship the family has with Wolverine defensive line coach Greg Mattison. The veteran assistant is a longtime friend of Chuck’s.
“We love Matty,” Pagano stated. “I met him when I went back to camp with Chuck being the secondary coach (for the Baltimore Ravens) and Matty being the defensive coordinator… and meeting his wife Ann after the games ad tailgating and I sat in on the defensive meetings and really love Matty. He does a great job in the way he has attacked this recruiting of Carlo. He is in it 100% and I love him.”