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Mike Shanahan is a highly effective NFL football coach who led John Elway and the Broncos to two consecutive Superbowl wins.
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(In his first season at Oklahoma, the Sooners won the national championship.)
"It was a great experience to me to get to the Division I level," Shanahan says. In 1977, after two years at Oklahoma, Shanahan was named backfield coach at Northern Arizona University. In his first year at the school, Northern Arizona averaged a staggering 391.1 rushing yards per game—the highest in school history.
Shanahan returned to Eastern Illinois to assume the role of offensive coordinator. Though the team had stumbled to an abysmal 1-10 record just one year before, in Shanahan's first year he helped lead his alma mater to the Division II national championship, one of the more dramatic one-year turnarounds in college football history.
Having quickly established himself as one of the nation's best young football minds, Shanahan soon shot up through the college football ranks. In 1979, he left Eastern Illinois to take a more prestigious post as the offensive coordinator for the Division I University of Minnesota, which promptly set 40 offensive records during Shanahan's first year on the job. Shanahan again moved on, spending the next four years, 1980-84, as offensive coordinator at the University of Florida, leading the Gators to four consecutive bowl game appearances.
Then, in 1984, Shanahan made the leap from college ball to the National Football League, joining the Denver Broncos as the wide receivers coach. The very next year, he was promoted to offensive coordinator. With Shanahan running a potent offense led by superstar quarterback John Elway, the Broncos made consecutive Super Bowl appearances in 1986 and 1987, but lost both contests.
Still, Shanahan's remarkable success as a young coordinator made him a hot candidate for head coaching vacancies, and in 1988, at just 36 years of age, Shanahan landed his first NFL head coaching job with the Los Angeles Raiders. However, after the Raiders posted a mediocre 7-9 record his first season at the helm, Shanahan was let go. In 1989, he returned to the Broncos as a quarterbacks coach.
In 1992, Shanahan left the Broncos once again to become the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. After three successful years in San Francisco, including a Super Bowl title in 1994, Shanahan once again returned to Denver in 1995, taking over as head coach. He went on to coach the Broncos for the next 16 years, winning back-to-back Super Bowls to close the 1997 and 1998 seasons on his way to one of the most illustrious coaching careers in team and league history.
In his early years as the Broncos' head coach, Shanahan formed a vital partnership with future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, helping the veteran thrower finally win two Super Bowls after suffering losses in three appearances in the big game earlier in his career. Elway retired from football as a champion after being named the most valuable player of his last game: Denver's win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.
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