THE DARIN HINSHAW FILE
Position(s) Coaching: Quarterbacks
Hired: Jan. 22, 2010
As a Coach: 1999 - Central Florida (graduate assistant); 2000 - Central Florida (quarterbacks); 2001-02 - Middle Tennessee State (running backs); 2003-2005 - Middle Tennessee State (co-offensive coordinator); 2006 - Georgia Southern (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks); 2007-09 - Memphis (wide receivers).
As a Player: Was a multi-record-setting quarterback at Central Florida (1991-94). Played professionally with the Cleveland Browns, Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League, the Granite State Warriors of the Eastern Football League and the Nashville Kats.
Personal: Married with four children.
Darin Hinshaw was all set to be a fourth-generation football player at the University of Kansas. But the option offense got in the way.
When coach Glen Mason went to the option, he didn't need a drop-back passer from Punta Gorda, Fla., despite all the family history. So Hinshaw signed with the University of Central Florida, where he became a record-setting passer under offensive coordinator Mike Kruczek. Hinshaw didn't realize how important that Kruczek connection would become until years later when he supposedly had put football behind him and settled into a career in real estate.
That must seem like a lifetime ago for Hinshaw, 37, and his wife, Pam, who, along with their four children, recently joined the Tennessee family. Getting a job as quarterbacks coach on first-year UT coach Derek Dooley's new staff is a significant step for Hinshaw, who previously had made coaching stops at his alma mater, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee State and Memphis. No one can appreciate the progression more than his wife, who made the climb right along with him. She's a full-time wife and mother now after 10 years of teaching school and doing most of the parenting while her husband pursued his football dream - first as a player, then as a coach.
"I would not be able to be a college coach if it wasn't for her," Hinshaw said.
All in the Family
Football was as much a part of Hinshaw's childhood as his family tree. He played pitch-and-catch with his dad, Wally, a former Kansas quarterback and teammate of Gale Sayers, and his brothers, Tyson and Ryan, both of whom later played college football.
All of them were quarterbacks, though Tyson switched to wide receiver at UCF, in deference to an already-established quarterback, Daunte Culpepper. In 2000, Tyson caught a school-record 89 passes and ranked second nationally with eight catches per game.
Darin made his mark at UCF as well, passing for 9,000 yards while learning the nuances of the position under Kruczek.
"He taught me the game," Hinshaw said. "Everything I knew about the game came from those years playing."
And he didn't want to stop playing.
He tried making the Cleveland Browns as a free agent, then played two years for the Orlando Predators in the Arena League. Next stop: Londonderry, N.H., in the Eastern Football League.
The owner of the Londonderry team paid Hinshaw $1,200 to fly up weekly from Orlando to coach and quarterback his offense. He would arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday, practice for the Saturday game, then fly home Sunday.
That's how much he wanted to play football.
Ending the Dream
After a season in the EFL, Hinshaw returned to the Arena League, this time in Nashville, where former Vol Andy Kelly was a full-fledged star at quarterback. Reality was beginning to overtake Hinshaw's dream. He was a second-team quarterback in the Arena League and apart from his family.
"It was irresponsible," Hinshaw concluded. "I had a wife, two kids and a mortgage. I had to give up the dream."
The dream gave way to work. He had a master's degree in business, plus experience in sales and recruiting from off-season jobs between football teams.
"I didn't really like it, but I was good at recruiting," he said. "You were getting CFOs (chief financial officers) to leave their jobs and go work for another company. You had to be able to talk the lingo. I was making good money."
His father's connections later helped Hinshaw get an interview with a prominent real-estate firm.
"It was based out of Tampa," Hinshaw said. "They wanted to start an office in Orlando. They thought I was perfect, an ex-UCF quarterback. I took the job."
And just like that, the Hinshaw's circuitous route merged into a main road seemingly headed for normalcy. The family was at home in Orlando, where they didn't have to worry about their husband and dad taking off for football camp. The job could become a career.
Then UCF head coach Kruczek called. He wanted Hinshaw to meet him for lunch.
He had an opening on his staff for a graduate assistant.
A Tough Decision
Hinshaw explained to Kruczek why he couldn't join his staff. He told him he was making too much money in his new job to leave it for a graduate assistant's position.
"And then, it wouldn't leave my mind," Hinshaw said. "All I thought about was getting back into football."
The biggest problem with his obsession was breaking the news to the wife, who had managed the household for so long while he was playing football, and his father, who had helped him land the real-estate job.
"My dad was kind of mad," Hinshaw said. "My wife could not believe I was going back to being on scholarship. She was supportive but she wasn't exactly happy."
While his dad might have been surprised at the timing, he couldn't have been surprised at the hold football had on his son. There was too much history to ignore.
"He had been playing football since he was 8 years old," Wally Hinshaw said. "He assured us it would work out."
Football had worked out before for the Hinshaws.
Wally and Suzanne Hinshaw moved from Punta Gorda to Orlando when Darin was a quarterback at UCF. A couple of other quarterbacking Hinshaws factored into the move. Tyson enrolled at Lake Mary High School, and Ryan at Oviedo, where they both became starting quarterbacks. When their teams played, the story was a natural.
A sportswriter from the Orlando Sentinel asked Suzanne for which team she would be cheering.
"She told him she was for the offense," Wally said.
Knowing the Game
Hinshaw's transitional year as a graduate assistant led to a full-time position. Other moves have broadened his offensive repertoire.
After coaching at Memphis and MTSU, he has more experience in the spread than the pro-style passing game he learned from Kruczek. But he still prefers the offense he played.
"I like the offense we're in right now," Hinshaw said. "I think you can run some spread concepts from this offense. But I think in the SEC, you better have a pro mentality.
"The level of play is as close to the NFL as you're going to get without being there. You've got to be able to move the football running."
You also need someone who can throw it.
On the wall behind Hinshaw's desk is a large, framed photo of former UT star Peyton Manning. That's an appropriate visual aid if you wondering what the new staff is seeking in its next quarterback.
"We're recruiting the next Peyton Manning," Hinshaw said. "That's our pitch."
"Does he have to be those dimensions? No. But you will be able to go from this offense right into the League and be a first-round draft pick."
And that's every quarterback's dream.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or email@example.com.