Tristan McCoy took over the Rancho Bernardo High School football program in 2011. In his first three years the Broncos went 7-26. Those were the growing pains a school has to go through to build a championship program.
Which is exactly what McCoy did.
In year four, the hard work paid off. Over the next three seasons RBHS went 35-6 and won the 2015 Division II California State Championship. The Broncos haven’t had a losing season since.
But, after a decade at the helm, McCoy started to feel the pull of another calling.
“Probably about a year ago I started to just get an itch to try something different. It was time for me to get uncomfortable and challenge myself in a different way,” McCoy said. “Not that being a head coach is not challenging. I certainly improve and learn and get better every year. It was just time for me to try something else.”
Coach, who’s also a History and Psychology teacher, wants to work more with students to develop leadership attributes. He told the school he had a couple of years left and they should start putting a succession plan together.
Enter Eric Weddle.
In December, after the high school football season ended, McCoy and Weddle were hanging out at a mutual friend’s house. Of course, the topic of football came up.
“My son played for Eric on his Pop Warner team so I was on the sidelines a lot listening to Eric, watching him, seeing his growth through the season,” McCoy said.
Those 12U Rancho Bernardo Broncos won the championship. So, McCoy took his shot.
“I asked him, ‘Do you ever see yourself running a high school program?’ Because he was saying. ‘I loved it, this is what I want to do, this just makes me happy.’ So, I asked him that question and he said, ‘Man, it would be a dream to have my own program, especially when my son comes through.’ So, I’m thinking to myself … well, we should talk.”
And talk they did.
The school was all-in on having a former All-Pro safety and San Diego Chargers fan-favorite involved with the program. But, then one minor obstacle popped up.
“He met with our athletic director the day before he signed with the Rams. And then, once the Super Bowl was over, he reached back out and set up an appointment with our principal on Wednesday. We made the announcement Friday.”
McCoy will still be the head coach in 2022 with Weddle joining as an assistant. After this year, they’ll switch roles. Eric will be the head coach but McCoy plans on sticking around to help wherever he’s needed. He’s dedicated a quarter of his life to building the Broncos program and wanted to make absolutely certain he left it in good hands.
He believes wholeheartedly he’s found the right guy.
"His values are our values. That was the number one thing for me is that whoever comes in here, they’re going to do things the right way. It’s not about racking up wins and all of that stuff. It’s about doing things the right way, developing these young men, teaching them the habits and skills that they need to be successful later on in life. As I’ve gotten to know Eric, take away all the accolades and accomplishments, remove all that stuff, and he’s still the right guy.”
Weddle is currently recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured pectoral muscle, an injury he suffered in the Rams Super Bowl win over the Bengals. In similar situations, high-profile athletes have taken coaching roles by using their celebrity to strongarm their way in. McCoy wants to make it absolutely clear that did not happen here.
“I’ve heard from a couple of people who were like, ‘Did Eric force his way onto the school? Did they push you out because he’s demanding things’? I just want to make sure the narrative is very clear that I recruited him. This was my decision to step away. I just wanted to make sure whoever I handed that torch to was going to do things the right way and carry on the legacy of RB football. He’s the perfect fit.”
A Pop Warner champion … a Super Bowl champion … and potentially a CIF State champion. That would not be a bad trifecta for Coach Weddle to have.