Mike Tice has experienced the National Football League from every level. He played 14 years at tight end in the NFL. He has been a tight ends coach, offensive line coach, offensive coordinator and head coach.
The Raiders new offensive line coach has gained vast knowledge from the coaches he has played for and coached with throughout his career. "I've been fortunate to be around a lot of great coaches," said Coach Tice. "Probably the one that stands out the most is Chuck Knox who I played for in Seattle. He was a great teacher, fundamentalist and taught you how to be a pro, how to study, how to study film, how to take notes. My high school coach who is at the University of Central Florida, George O'Leary, would be another one that was very influential, but I've been fortunate to be around a lot of great coaches. I could name off 10 names of guys, like Howard Mudd, who was my first position coach in Seattle, to Joe Bugel at Washington who was a great coach, Jim Hanifan…a lot of great coaches."
All of his experiences and interactions have helped shape Coach Tice's coaching style. "I am a teacher. I like to give guys things to work on and see how they improve," he explained. "Fortunately I've been doing it for a long time and I think guys trust me with the advice that I give them so that's a good thing. Not much of a yeller anymore but I do have my moments. Most of the time when I yell it's because a guy has made the same mistake three or four times. When I know he's a smart guy, it tells me he doesn't care or he's not paying attention so that's usually the only time I yell."
Coach Tice enjoys the opportunity to work with the offensive line. "You get to coach a lot of guys, and I like teaching guys how to be professionals and how to grow into the talents they were given by God and by their parents," said Coach Tice. "We have a good foundation here, some excellent young players that can get better."
He sees the potential on the Raiders offensive line and is ready to get to work. "I'm very excited. There are some good young players on that line," Coach Tice reiterated. "There's some players that are close to taking the next step and there are some players that we can nurture and develop and there are some players that played good football last year. That combination, and maybe with an addition or two to that group, I think we can be an outstanding offensive line."
The Raiders 2015 coaching staff has a combined 102 playing years in the NFL. Check out these photos of the staff during their playing days.
Coach Tice is perfectly clear, however, about what type of player he expects to represent the Raiders offensive line. "It's important to note that all my players are hard-nosed players and that's my background," Coach Tice explained. "All my players are going to be tough and play with grit and determination and finish. I don't know any other way. If you don't play that way, you don't play for Mike Tice, that's just the way it goes."
He knows what he wants from his group. "We're going to bring some intelligence and we're going to bring some finish. You'll see the guys flying around. You'll see guys looking for contact, looking for people to hit," said Coach Tice. "I think those are the things that will be the most notable. You won't see a whole lot of free runners at the quarterback or free runners at the running back. We're going to get a hat on a hat and we're going to finish the best we can."
The offensive line position is definitely not the most glamorous in football and rarely gets recognition, but that's one of the best parts for Coach Tice.
"In my first meeting, and I do this every year at the start of the year, I'll explain to them how I feel about the offensive line," said Coach Tice. "If you look at the offense like a fancy car, the offensive line is the engine. Even though we might have nice spinners and nice rims and tinted windows and some neat paint job, it doesn't mean crap without the engine. If the engine's not working, the car might look like a pretty nice car, but it's a piece of crap."
Because of their under-the-radar importance, the offensive line room is generally one of the closest groups. "We know O-linemen don't get sometimes the recognition they deserve, but they certainly get pointed out when they give up a sack or a hold call, but that's part of the deal. That's why those guys always stick together," he said. "It's the number one position group on the team that is close. The camaraderie is what it's all about as an offensive lineman. They'll understand that they're the engine and I've been fortunate to coach some pretty damn good engines over the years."
For Coach Tice, football is supposed to be fun – intense and focused, sometimes brutally honest - but fun. "We don't want to come to work and feel like it's a grind. We want to come to work and grind and feel like it's fun. We want to have fun," said Coach Tice. "We can't be sensitive. If you make a mistake, you have to own up to it and if it happens to be your turn to get picked on in the room by maybe the veterans or the head coach, then so be it. That's the way it goes. That's part of being a football player, part of being an athlete."
Coach Tice has been there before. In fact, he's been there against the Oakland Raiders time and time again. "The competition between the Seahawks and the Raiders back in the early '80s was really big," he said. "I played against them in the '83 championship game in the Coliseum, a lot of rivalry there, a lot of great players that I was able to play against. Played against Lyle Alzado, played against Howie Long, played against [Ted] Hendricks and all those guys. For me, great memories, sometimes good and sometimes not so good, but it was all great. It was part of growing as a football player."
His history with the Raiders makes his coaching position with the Silver and Black exciting for the long-time tight end. "It's going to be cool. It's going to be really cool, and it's going to be really good to be a part of the tradition and a part of bringing the tradition back is probably the coolest part of it."
Coach Tice is also excited to be reunited with Head Coach Jack Del Rio, with whom he worked in Jacksonville. "Being able to come here and work with Jack is very important," said Coach Tice. "Getting back on the West Coast is awesome. I think we have the makings of a very good team quicker than people might think, so that's a big thing that made this opportunity enticing."
The former head coach is also looking forward to being on the correct side of Raider Nation. "I remember when I was a head coach going over and hanging out and getting yelled at by the Black Hole, so I think it's going to be exciting to now be a part of the Black Hole and having them cheer for us and having them cheer for me and my guys," said Coach Tice. "It means a lot to the players and the coaches and all the other people who work for the organization to have great, die-hard fans that are there through thick and thin."
For now, Coach Tice is hard at work preparing for the return of his offensive line.
He's ready to start the engine, and lucky for the Raiders, he's been "fortunate to coach some pretty damn good engines over the years."