SCHENECTADY — Union College football head coach Jeff Behrman played quarterback at John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio, from 1991-95.
With the head coaching position open there, Behrman saw an opportunity to apply for it and return to his alma mater.
On Monday, John Carroll announced that Behrman is its next football head coach.
Behrman spent seven seasons as the Dutchmen’s head coach. He compiled a 42-20 record in six years. The team didn’t play in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Behrman replaces Drew Nystrom, who served as John Carroll’s interim head coach after Rick Finotti resigned in March.
“This is a dream come true,” Behrman said in a press release on the John Carroll Athletics website. “My family and I are ecstatic. I’m thrilled to come back home to lead a program near and dear to my heart, at a University that aligns with my mission to form Men for Others. I’d like to thank the search committee, [athletic director] Michelle Morgan, and [John Carroll President] Al Miciak for their dedication to this process.”
In a Union press release, Behrman said, “The opportunity to be back ‘home’ in northeast Ohio and be near my family is important to me. My wife Karen, son Brock and I cannot thank the Union community enough for welcoming us into your family back in 2016. Your unconditional support has been much appreciated over the years. The future of Union College football is bright because of the character and integrity of the men that take the field on Saturdays, and I look forward to its continued success.”
Behrman didn’t return a phone call to the Daily Gazette.
Some of Behrman’s former teammates reacted to the news on the John Carroll press release.
“Jeff is an outstanding leader and knows offensive football at a high level,” Los Angeles Chargers general manager and 1995 John Carroll graduate Tom Telesco said. “He understands what type of student-athlete will thrive at John Carroll and I believe he knows how to build a national champion.”
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Jeff Behrman for nearly 30 years as a teammate, a friend, and a colleague in the coaching profession,” said 1997 John Carroll graduate Brian Polian, the special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator for LSU. “I am thrilled that he is returning home to be the head coach of the Blue Streaks. John Carroll Football is a program rich in tradition and pride and Jeff will continue to grow that culture for years to come. He is an exceptional football mind, a terrific recruiter, but most importantly, a relationship-driven coach that will positively impact the young people with whom he works. Congratulations to Coach Behrman, Athletic Director Michelle Morgan, and President Miciak — the future of JCU Football is in good hands.”
Some of John Carroll’s famous football alums include legendary NFL head coach Don Shula, who’s name is on the team’s stadium, and Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.
In a telephone interview, Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said a national search will begin immediately for Behrman’s successor. McLaughlin said he will consider in-house candidates. McLaughlin said assistant coaches Pete Brown, Rick Flanders and Travis James will run the team until a new head coach is hired.
“We’ll look at all possibilities,” McLaughlin said. “We haven’t closed any doors. We’ve already begun the process, and we’re going to move as quickly as we can with being as thorough as we need to be.”
Behrman was an assistant coach at Stony Brook when he was hired to replace John Audino after the Dutchmen went 0-10 in 2015.
After going 3-7 in 2016, the Dutchmen won seven games in each of the next two seasons. Behrman’s best season came in 2019, when the Dutchmen went 7-0 to win the Liberty League title and 10-0 in the regular season. Union played in the NCAA Division III playoffs, beating Case Western Reserve in the first round before losing to Salisbury in the second round.
After the lost 2020 season, the Dutchmen won their first eight games of the 2021 campaign and appeared to be in line to win another Liberty League title and earn another NCAA berth. But Union lost at Ithaca and then dropped the Dutchman Shoes game to RPI to end its season.
This season, Union was 3-3 in the Liberty League and 6-4 overall.
Union quarterback Donovan Pacatte, who is returning next season with an extra year of eligibility, reacted to the news on Twitter, writing, “We still got dogs! Let’s work! #FTC” with a cannonball emoji for “Fire The Cannon.”
The move to Ohio will also enable Behrman to watch his son Brock play lacrosse at Notre Dame. Brock Behrman earned U.S. Lacrosse All-America honors as a sophomore at Niskayuna High School in 2021. He transferred from Niskayuna to the Salisbury School in Connecticut last school year.
“We support [Jeff Behrman] and want nothing but the best for him,” McLaughlin. “This was primarily about a family move. It just puts him back within 40 minutes of his folks, it’s closer to his wife’s family and puts them within a four-hour trip to Notre Dame as opposed to a 12-hour trip where his son will be playing for the next four years.”
Gazette deputy content editor Adam Shinder contributed to this report.