All business: Charlie Coiner, two years removed from coaching, thrilled to be back

For every one of his 12 coaching stops, Charlie Coiner picked up a playbook or two — or eight or 15. Big, thick ones; the kind that won't stack easily within a normal cardboard box.

Tennessee's new tight ends/special teams coach grew tired of lugging his ever-growing stash of football knowledge wherever he went. Like a music lover ditches his old albums for MP3s, Coiner wanted to convert his pencil-scribbled X's and O's for digital files. He just needed an appropriate amount of time away from the football field and a little help from his new friends in Austin, Texas.

Two years later, he's the proud founder of a small business, FirstDown PlayBook. Via applications on the iPad or iPhone, Coiner's business provides those thousands and thousands of the plays he previously had stuffed away in a closet to coaches from all levels.

"I was doing it for me to make myself a better coach with whatever job I got on offense," Coiner said. "Well, that turned into where somebody else looked at it and said, 'You know what, what you're doing for yourself could be applicable and helpful for other coaches, too.'

"They say most decent ideas and innovation come from somebody doing it out of a direct need for themselves."

After four seasons with

the Buffalo Bills, Coiner decided he was sick of letting his job dictate where he would live. His decision to move to Austin in 2010 was simple. He'd been there before and he liked what he saw.

Intentionally or not, Coiner had stumbled upon a thriving hub for technology-based start-ups. He shared his idea with a few of his closest confidants and, next thing he knew, he was on the fast track toward creating his own small business.

"I said, 'I don't even know what an app is,'" Coiner said. "In a short time, I learned."

It was a relatively short time, but there was plenty to learn. Before there was FirstDown Playbook, there were countless nights inside the home of John Butler, the director of the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship and director of the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas.

The sessions were offered at no cost. Butler respected Coiner's dedication enough to help him find answers to all the questions that must be addressed before launching a small business.

"I want to start a company. What do I do? ... How do you take it to the market? ... Where's the market? ... How do you make it bigger?"

Butler expected nothing less from a coach, especially a football coach.

"To be successful when every play stops, you start all over again," Butler said. "If you think about that in my field of research, which is based in entrepreneurship, we're always strategizing to make things better. That's what innovation is all about. Taking old ideas and adding to them."

Coiner partnered with the Austin-based Clarus Agency to design the app. He brought on former NFL tight end Derek Schouman, whom Coiner coached during his time at Buffalo, as an adviser. All told, he's invested nearly $200,000 in the project, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

"I don't want to make light of anything I did in this off year," Coiner said. "It was a lot of work, a lot of detail and a well thought out plan that was executed."

The startup was initially delayed when Coiner retreated to Chapel Hill, N.C., for a few months to serve as a temporary defensive assistant for the 2010 season. He was replacing John Blake, who was fired for his involvement in a slew of NCAA violations, and he was satisfying his coaching fix. His last game on the sidelines before he returned to finish the project came against UT in the Music City Bowl.

"I didn't get far away from football even during that year," Coiner said. "I drew football plays on an almost daily basis."

The app was launched Jan. 6. Consumers can access 50 plays for free before paying $19.99 for access to more.

It's too early to tell, but Butler said he anticipates that the bulk of FirstDown Playbook's clients will be at the pee-wee and high school level.

"In the future," Butler said. "I expect to see a football coach walking the sidelines with an iPad rather than a piece of paper."

Before Coiner received interest for his spot at UT, an exit strategy was in place for his departure. His colleagues in Austin are currently executing the day-to-day operations of the company while he focuses exclusively on UT's special teams and tight ends.

He's doing it with an added appreciation for what it takes to succeed in the business world and far less luggage.

"I learned a lot about being able to adapt on the run; a banker here, a lawyer here, those kinds of things. It was really good for me," Coiner said. "I have an appreciation for what Coach Dooley goes through a little bit now. So many people tugging you, want this, want that. "But make no mistake about it: I'm glad to be back in coaching, I'm a coach and I hope to coach until I'm ready to retire."

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 16

sambad writes:

Give Chaney the best 20 plays you have from a success ratio and thanks in advance.

HtownVol writes:

I am glad to have a coach with NFL experience, HOWEVER...
I have not missed a Bills game in about 15 years. Buffalo has not had anything close to a Tight End since Jay Remiersma (?) about 10 years ago.
They drafted a guy from S Miss about 3-4 years ago and he is off the team already (and he ran a 4.5 40 as a TE).
Point is, I can honestly say this guy better be a heck of a Special Teams coach because he hasnt done anything with Buffalos TEs. Wait, Buffalo had a special teams coach, and it wasnt this guy so TEs must be his area of professionalism....uh oh.

Im not saying, Im just saying.
But this is all me going on what I have seen him do with the Buffalo Bills.

The good news is the Bills had in that time QBs named Trent Edwards and JP Losman. Not exactly NFL #1 level QBs (It stinks that I am now stuck with Ryan Fitzpatrick for 4 more years... Fred Jackson deserved that contract...NOT FITZ!) wait, wrong site..

ANYWAY,
GO VOLS

volsfanntn11 writes:

we will see what he has the first game of the season! with a healthy devrin young back and patterson the juco WR is real nice when he has the ball! I dont see any flaws in kickoff return...only thing Imma hatin on is the PUNT RETURN GAME! so lets not go out and hate on the man......that was NFL football he was coaching....and now coaching college football...totally different situations! GBO N VFL!

frblalack writes:

thought Gribble was leaving?

BruisedOrange writes:

Definitely an entrepreneur. He arrives at Tennessee with a prepared exit strategy.

[smarta**comment / off]

But seriously, anytime you can bring in a "teacher" who has real world, private sector experience... it's an upgrade for the university.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I am glad to have a coach with NFL experience, HOWEVER...
I have not missed a Bills game in about 15 years. Buffalo has not had anything close to a Tight End since Jay Remiersma (?) about 10 years ago.
They drafted a guy from S Miss about 3-4 years ago and he is off the team already (and he ran a 4.5 40 as a TE).
Point is, I can honestly say this guy better be a heck of a Special Teams coach because he hasnt done anything with Buffalos TEs. Wait, Buffalo had a special teams coach, and it wasnt this guy so TEs must be his area of professionalism....uh oh.

Im not saying, Im just saying.
But this is all me going on what I have seen him do with the Buffalo Bills.

The good news is the Bills had in that time QBs named Trent Edwards and JP Losman. Not exactly NFL #1 level QBs (It stinks that I am now stuck with Ryan Fitzpatrick for 4 more years... Fred Jackson deserved that contract...NOT FITZ!) wait, wrong site..

ANYWAY,
GO VOLS

No offense intended. From the Bills 2008 website bio.

COACHING EXPERIENCE: Within the Buffalo offense tight ends play an important role in both the running and passing game. For the fourth consecutive season, Coiner will oversee the development of the team’s tight ends. … In 2008, Coiner led a young group that produced career receiving numbers across the board. Robert Royal posted career highs in receptions (33) and receiving yards (351) and added one touchdown. Second-year TE Derek Schouman added 15 receptions and 153 yards and rookie TE Derek Fine added 10 receptions for 94 yards and one touchdown. Tight ends also contributed to the team’s rushing game that ranked fifth in the AFC in games 9-16 with 1,092 yards. … Under Coiner in 2007, Michael Gaines set career highs in starts (14), receptions (25) and yards (215) and tied a career-best with two touchdowns in his first season with Buffalo. … In 2006, the tight end position saw increased production from the position as Royal became the first Bills tight end to catch a touchdown pass in three consecutive games (weeks 13-15) since 1963; tight ends were also a force blocking in the running game and in pass protection. … Coiner joined the Bills as the team’s tight ends coach after spending 2001-05 as a member of the Chicago Bears coaching staff. He held the assistant special teams coach position for the Bears (2004-05)…he originally joined Chicago on February 12, 2001 as the offensive quality control coach.

Charlie is obviously well qualified and successful at what he does. None of us know what hand he was dealt by the Bills' GM, HC, OC and scouts when it came to the draft or FA's available. He did the work with what he had available. He can also handle a 1-2 year stay if CDD doesn't make the cut.

hateNCloveTN writes:

If we don't win more football games this season, I am going to become a more ardent fan of the Swansea Rugby club

formerflgranny writes:

in response to frblalack:

thought Gribble was leaving?

Hopefully the Sentinel has decided Gribble is too valuable to leave and instead sending John Adams away!!!!!!

Bigger_Al writes:

Wonder if he drew up that FG play where the NC QB took the snap and spiked it with 12 players participating on the play and 5 more running off.

givehim6 writes:

Hope Coiner can take enough time away from his business to make UT a good TE/ST coach. Does he have too many irons in the fire? We will find out this fall.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

2012 Is about winning. We have good coaches and players in place. Now make it happen. We need a signature win or two this year!

Go Vols!

UTMaster04 writes:

Year 3 of the Dooley era. It's time to see some grand improvements to decide on whether Dooley is our man or not:

1. Improvement in the win column (of course).
2. Wins over rivals.
3. Significant reduction in formation penalties, substitution gaffes, and clock management mistakes.
4. Improvement in play calling.
5. Competitive in losses.
6. See tangible evidence of player improvement.
7. To fans: no more leaving in the 3rd qtr. Sit your butt down and support our players no matter the score. We can deal with the coaches in other forums. Don't make our stadium look like the Liberty Bowl at a Memphis-Tulane game (from Memphis, so I know what these horrible football games look like).
8. Win our home games.
9. Finish at least 5-3 in the conference.
10. Did I say win more football games?

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to UTMaster04:

Year 3 of the Dooley era. It's time to see some grand improvements to decide on whether Dooley is our man or not:

1. Improvement in the win column (of course).
2. Wins over rivals.
3. Significant reduction in formation penalties, substitution gaffes, and clock management mistakes.
4. Improvement in play calling.
5. Competitive in losses.
6. See tangible evidence of player improvement.
7. To fans: no more leaving in the 3rd qtr. Sit your butt down and support our players no matter the score. We can deal with the coaches in other forums. Don't make our stadium look like the Liberty Bowl at a Memphis-Tulane game (from Memphis, so I know what these horrible football games look like).
8. Win our home games.
9. Finish at least 5-3 in the conference.
10. Did I say win more football games?

That is some list. The only 2 that I am not as adiment about is #2 ( Uts' rivals would be bragging rights for almost every team in the country) I would love to beat them but I except taking out Bama after the season we had last year would be an amazing leap.
#9 I honestly didn't memorize our schedule so not sure if I see that as accomplishable or not.

I support #5 to no end! There are certain teams I don't expect to beat (yet) but I darn sure want to show up and play like we intend to win.

pingkr62 writes:

If Tennessee can have a convincing win versus N.C. State, I think this can be a special season. Winning that game is crucial in establishing the teams morale early in the season. G.B.O.!!!

copia69296 writes:

Not a very stable coach for a team that keeps losing coaches.

Never spent more than 3 years at any coaching job since he started in 1983. Not being negative here but I am curious if he doesnt stay or teams do not keep him.

CHARLIE COINER COACHING CAREER
2010 » North Carolina, Defensive Assistant
2006-09 » Buffalo Bills, Tight Ends, Assistant Special Teams
2001-03 » Chicago Bears, Offensive Assistant (2001-03), Assistant Special Teams (2004-05)
2000 » Texas Southern, Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks, Special Teams
1999 » LSU, Special Teams
1998 » UT Chattanooga, Linebackers
1995-97» Louisville, Tight Ends
1994 » Texas Southern, Offensive Line, Special Teams
1991-93 » Vanderbilt, Special Teams
1988-90 » Austin Peay, Offensive Line (1988-89), Defensive Line (1990)
1987 » Minnesota, Defensive Line, Kicking Coach
1983-86 » Appalachian State, Graduate Assistant

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

in response to copia69296:

Not a very stable coach for a team that keeps losing coaches.

Never spent more than 3 years at any coaching job since he started in 1983. Not being negative here but I am curious if he doesnt stay or teams do not keep him.

CHARLIE COINER COACHING CAREER
2010 » North Carolina, Defensive Assistant
2006-09 » Buffalo Bills, Tight Ends, Assistant Special Teams
2001-03 » Chicago Bears, Offensive Assistant (2001-03), Assistant Special Teams (2004-05)
2000 » Texas Southern, Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks, Special Teams
1999 » LSU, Special Teams
1998 » UT Chattanooga, Linebackers
1995-97» Louisville, Tight Ends
1994 » Texas Southern, Offensive Line, Special Teams
1991-93 » Vanderbilt, Special Teams
1988-90 » Austin Peay, Offensive Line (1988-89), Defensive Line (1990)
1987 » Minnesota, Defensive Line, Kicking Coach
1983-86 » Appalachian State, Graduate Assistant

Look at where he coached and where he moved to and it's easy to figure out why he moved around alot.

He was getting a reputation as a good, solid coach with upward mobility so he was also getting more $$$ with each move up.

From App State and APSU to the NFL looks like proof that he was a good coach and that his name was getting mentioned which does NOT happen to bad coaches.

Time will tell but this looks like a serious improvement to our coaching staff to me.

VFL...GBO!!!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features