Mike Dailey is currently the defensive coordinator for the McDaniel College football team. Dailey lives in Carroll County with his wife and family.
JOSH RUTTER: My name’s Josh Rutter. I’m here for my oral history presentation. I have with me today on this Monday June 20, 2011 Coach Mike Dailey. Coach Dailey is a member of the McDaniel College faculty. He currently holds the position of Defensive Coordinator for the football team. And prior to his arrival at McDaniel, was a head coach in the Arena Football League.
During his time there, he coached both the Albany Firebirds and the Colorado Crush to world championships, while amassing one of the highest playoff and regular season winning percentages in the history of arena football.
He also spent time coaching in the junior college ranks where his team played for a junior college national championship, and spent time at nearby Tolleson coaching as well. Mike Dailey has lived in Carroll County with his wife Jodie for the past 10 years, and continues to be a great mentor and teacher for those around him.
For starters, Mr. Dailey, where’d you grow up as a child?
MIKE DAILEY: I grew up in Beltsville, Maryland, which is in Prince George’s County.
JOSH RUTTER: What occupations did your parents hold where you were a youngster?
MIKE DAILEY: Farming. They had a little truck farm, a little roadside produce stand. My father was retired from construction work. He was injured, broke his back, and then went into farming.
JOSH RUTTER: Gotcha. How diversified was the area that you grew up in?
MIKE DAILEY: It was predominantly white at that time. I was born in the late ’50s. So most of Beltsville at that time was predominantly white.
JOSH RUTTER: Were you aware of any racial differences growing up or differences with ethnicities?
MIKE DAILEY: I think if you grew up at that time in the ’60s, it would have been hard not to see a difference. And there was never any problems. I think my parents were very open minded. I was the youngest of eight, and they tried to do a good job of making sure that we were all open minded. But you certainly were aware of the difference of different nationalities and ethnicities.
JOSH RUTTER: Gotcha. You said you were one of eight. You went to DeMatha Catholic– you and then along with one of your other siblings. Is that correct?
MIKE DAILEY: Correct.
JOSH RUTTER: Did going to the DeMatha clear up any stereotypes that maybe were surrounding the times in the, like you said, in the 60s growing up and ’70s and when you were going through school?
MIKE DAILEY: I think it helped. You know, I had minimal exposure to any African American students or athletes until I went to DeMatha. And being there– DeMatha was in Hydesville, Maryland, which is a suburb of Washington, DC– very close to Washington DC, and a lot more diverse area. So I had a lot of exposure with different people there. It was good for me.
JOSH RUTTER: After you got out of school, were there any certain events or a time in your life that you can recall now, that had a lasting impact, you could remember where you were at, what the time of day, the weather was like, things like that?
MIKE DAILEY: Biggest one for me was I was the victim of a robbery in 1981. It was April 6, 1981. It was about 11:30 in the morning. It was a Monday morning. I was shot during the robbery. It changed my life dramatically, and maybe for the good actually.
JOSH RUTTER: Yeah, that was going to be my next question. You said that changed you for the good. Did it have any impact on you as far as just your mindset with what you were going to do with the rest your life? Or what was your occupation at the time?
MIKE DAILEY: Well, at the time I was working as a carpenter’s helper, and I was playing semi-professional football. Which I think everyone who ever plays aspires to play at the highest level they can. But I was probably limited and wasn’t going to go any higher than that, but dreamed of playing at a higher level.
And being the victim of a robbery who was shot changed dramatically the direction my occupation went. And I love football. I got out of being a player and got into coaching, and have been coaching ever since.
JOSH RUTTER: Yeah, I was going to say, you’ve been a football coach now for over three decades. Was that something that you always thought you might do? Or did you kind of come into that?
MIKE DAILEY: I really came into it because of that incident. I had really no thoughts that I would go into coaching. Even as a player, I didn’t aspire at all to coach. But getting an opportunity to do so, wanting to stay involved in football, and then being able to move up through the ranks has been good for me.
JOSH RUTTER: What’s been the most rewarding part of coaching for you?
MIKE DAILEY: I think the interaction with the players. You get an opportunity to instruct and talk to young people, and maybe give them some guidance about not only what’s going on the field– the Xs and Os and the technique– but what’s going on in their life.
JOSH RUTTER: You’ve coached at a variety of different places, and those have taken you to different parts of the country, different parts of the world. Has the way in which your team was received from various places differed at all?
MIKE DAILEY: Well, I think the biggest difference was we had an opportunity to go to Europe. And we took an extended trip to Spain, spent three weeks in Spain. And just to have the people of Spain see the athletes from the United States, the physical stature, size– not only just race, but just their size alone. You know, the people of Spain are not very big. And to see those players, particularly the lineman, I think was a little startling to them.
JOSH RUTTER: Yeah. Did any of the places that you lived, whether it was Colorado or Albany, did any of those seem more accepting or less accepting of the different racial groups that comprise your team?
MIKE DAILEY: Well, I think– I spent three years in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I like that part of the country. The people really seem to be down to earth and accepting of whoever it may be. So I enjoyed that. Everywhere I went was a good situation, but Indianapolis seemed to be a part of the country that was very good about that kind of thing.
JOSH RUTTER: Okay, great. Has coaching and being able to relate to a diverse population, just in terms of your players and colleagues, do you think that’s made you more well-rounded person? Just made you a little bit more aware of different diversities and that sort of thing?
MIKE DAILEY: Oh, I think it definitely has, no doubt about it. You get a chance to be exposed to different races. And you know, when you’re around young people, young players, things change as you get older, their age group stays the same. And things change with our culture, and you’re more aware of it.
JOSH RUTTER: Gotcha. Now as far as your current position with McDaniel goes, have you seen the population diversify with the different recruiting classes or anything since your 10 years began here?
MIKE DAILEY: I’ve only been here two seasons and it has increased. I think we went from four African American players my first year here to 12, I believe, last year. So we’re looking for good students and good players. And not really concerned or targeting what race they are, but it has changed.
JOSH RUTTER: Yep. I gotcha. What do you think are just some of the biggest barriers holding back an influx of different diverse groups here at the college?
MIKE DAILEY: Well, the two things that are probably the hardest is the academic standards and the cost of the school. I’m recruiting in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Washington DC, and Northern Virginia. That’s my region and that’s an area I’m very familiar with. And the sticker shock of the cost or the academic requirements a lot of times is hard for some of the families to overcome.
JOSH RUTTER: Well, just getting a little bit of background about your coaching experiences. Now, more just Carroll County and the area that you live in now– I know you didn’t grow up here, but you lived here for some time now. In what ways if any has the area really changed since you first arrived here?
MIKE DAILEY: I don’t think it’s changed very much. At my age, you’re not out in the social scene very much. You’re not out at restaurants or bars or stuff at night where you might see an influx of different races. But I haven’t seen it change very much, truthfully, in the last 10 years I’ve been here.
JOSH RUTTER: Gotcha. Now, from a younger generation’s standpoint, someone growing up now in today’s society, do you think there’s been some recent events that you feel would impact young people today similar to, let’s say, JFK’s assassination when you were growing up, or an event like that?
MIKE DAILEY: Well, I think the two that come to mind for me, and I don’t know how recent– when you’re older, time seems to go by– but 9/11 obviously was something that was going to impact everyone who was alive at that time. I remember it.
And then President Barack Obama being elected. Probably the time that when I was growing up, it would’ve been unheard that we would have an African American president. But times have changed, and I think that makes a big difference.
JOSH RUTTER: Yes, sir. Well, great. Thank you just for taking a little bit of time our of your day, Coach Dailey. I’d like to thank you on behalf of the culture diversity class here at McDaniel. And I would just like to say, good luck in the fall.
MIKE DAILEY: Appreciate it.
JOSH RUTTER: Thank you.