As the play-by-play announcer, I get to interview the head coach before every game. This is a tremendous privilege I don't take lightly.
I'm not sure everyone with my type of job gets to do it. I only know that some of my broadcast heroes early on did it so I made sure it was a tradition. It's great for a pregame show and establishes a link between the announcer and coach that really boosts the broadcast.
Name dropper alert in 3, 2, 1…
I've done the same in all sports I've announced. Like with John Calipari at UMass, Butch Davis and Leonard Hamilton at Miami, and many more.
So it's been my honor to have interviewed and spent a little time with the three men who have coached the Texans – Dom Capers, Gary Kubiak and Bill O'Brien.
I know what you're thinking – "Wait, this is a piece about all three coaches being in the building on Sunday and Vandermeer is inserting himself in the story?!"
Yes he is.
They'll all be here and they all know each other. The coaching fraternity is relatively small enough. But O'Brien happened to work with Capers in New England. And he's gotten to know Kubiak through contact at the NFL meetings.
Capers was the first NFL coach I worked with. Butch Davis had been in the league and told me a lot about what this was going to be like but he was still a college head coach. Dom was one of the nicest people, never mind coaches, that I had ever met. And it was no small task to coach a brand new team, something O'Brien acknowledged during a press conference this week.
Capers was hired prior to the '01 season, sitting out that campaign while organizing the Texans launch with Charley Casserly.
Asking a head coach to sit out a season is like asking an offensive lineman to sit out dinner. But it was necessary and Capers had been through it before with Carolina. His opening night win over the Cowboys will never be forgotten. The Texans could win five Super Bowls (please do!) and we'd still talk about September 8, 2002.
One big memory I have of Capers and the type of man he is comes from the day he was fired. Capers still wanted to do his radio show that night. He was excellent, gracious, a total gentleman. I'll always remember that.
Kubiak was introduced at a press conference at the Hobby Center after the Broncos, for whom he was the offensive coordinator, lost in the AFC Championship game following the '05 season. My son was born that week and I attended, on vapors, to see the new boss.
The offense became a top 3 attack within two years. The defense took longer to come around. Wade Phillips' hiring in 2011 brought that side of the ball to number two and helped the Texans make the post season for the first time. Kubiak will always be remembered for getting the Texans over that hump.
It was impossible to not feel the local pride connected with any success the Texans had in that era. People who recalled Kubiak from St. Pius or Aggieland would call his show regularly. It gave the program a terrific feel, even in the tough times.
There's no question that Kubiak will always be liked if not loved by Texans fans. He's always been wonderful to me and my family which is no surprise, because he is with everybody.
The O'Brien era is still in progress. He's had the most divisional success. And having taken the job in year 13 of franchise history, the highest expectations. The era is already filled with winning seasons and division titles.
One thing that gets lost on the public is how enjoyable O'Brien is to be around. Of course those who observe him during the postgame moments after losses might not see that. You know what coach is enjoyable after a loss? No one.
O'Brien has taken the Texans as far as they've ever gone and has the quarterback to make the ultimate magic happen. This season is off to a tough start but it's far from over.
Not one of the Texans three head coaches is happy about where his team currently stands. But it's important to hit the pause button for just a moment to take in the fact that all three mentors will be coaching in the same game.
Check out some photos from the Houston Texans previous matchups with the Minnesota Vikings.