If ever there was a perfect fit, this would seem to be it.
Carmel football coach Andy Bitto, feeling stretched too thin with his duties as head coach, offensive coordinator and running special teams, was searching for someone to run the Corsairs' offense.
Former Cary-Grove coach Bruce Kay, an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer, was looking to return to coaching after taking one season off.
Both men consider former Crystal Lake Central Bill Mack as their mentor with the option, among other things. Kay, who led C-G to the 2009 Class 6A state championship, will join Bitto as Carmel's offensive coordinator for the 2013 season.
“Andy and I have talked about it over the years,” Kay said. “It was kind of an open-ended offer. We have the mutual mentor in Bill Mack. It was a matter of deciding if I wanted to get involved again. They've run the triple-option many years, so I don't have to sell them on that, we can just work on things and fine-tune them and move forward.”
Kay was 168-68 in 22 seasons as coach. He retired as coach, athletic director and teacher at C-G in 2011 and worked as an offensive assistant coach at North Park University later that year.
“You need something in the morning to get up and do,” Kay said. “The nice thing is, in the winter I can come and go as I please. We [he and wife Barb] like to travel, so a little extra money doesn't hurt.”
Kay and Bitto have known each other for about 20 years through coaching and working as their schools' ADs. They happened to sit next to each other at the Northwestern vs. Illinois football game at Wrigley Field in November of 2011.
“He told me he was retiring and I said, 'If you think about coaching again, I'd love to have you on my staff,' ” Bitto said. “If was kind of tongue-in-cheek, but kind of not. We talked again [late in the fall] and he decided it was something he wanted to do.”
Mack has long been the option guru that coaches around northern Illinois sought out to help guide them with the offense. Mack was on Bitto's staff in 2003 when the Corsairs rolled to the Class 6A state championship with a 14-0 record and won the title game with their backup quarterback. Kay and Mack, who lives in Crystal Lake, have spoke on a regular basis, and it was Mack who helped Kay install the option many years ago.
Kay realized when he retired other coaches might ask for his insight, particularly with the option. North Park assistant Todd Winter, the former head coach at Johnsburg, approached Kay in his first year of retirement. Now, Bitto has him back in coaching.
“I thought there was that possibility [of coaching opportunities],” Kay said. “Especially with the flexbone triple-option, it's kind of a niche offense. [Carmel] is a very good fit for me.”
Bitto sees an easy transition for himself, his players and the new offensive coordinator.
“Our philosophies are very close and we talk the same language already [with option],” he said. “He's a good fit. He's a workaholic and he's retired. Bruce will have all that extra time to look at things and be creative. I think his best coaching could still be ahead of him. We're real excited about having him.”