Rip Scherer Gets First Opportunity as Professional Head Coach at 71 Years Old with the Madrid Bravos

His coaching career began in 1974 immediately after a college career as a quarterback, with William and Mary. His first job came with Penn State under Joe Paterno. It took him just under 20 years to get his first chance to be a head coach in 1991 with James Madison. He moved on in 1994 and waited 30 years for the right opportunity to come along. Finally the Madrid Bravos have hired coach Scherer to run their program in their inaugural ELF Season in 2024. 

Coaching Tree

Scherer may have gotten his start under Paterno but really cut his teeth as a play caller under Bill Curry at Georgia Tech from 1980 to 1986. Scherer then followed Curry to Alabama as his OC for the 87 season as well. During this time Curry and Scherer took the Yellow Jackets from a 1-9-1 team in 1980 to a 9-2-1 record and a 19 spot in the AP poll. Coaches ranked the team 18th. 

With Georgia Tech he developed 10 future professional players including a tight end by the name of Ken Whisenhunt. During the 87 season with Alabama Scherer coached future first round pick RB Bobby Humphrey, future 6th round pick TE Howard Cross, and 7th round pick RB Bo Wright. 


After the 1987 season Scherer was hired by long-time Arizona head coach Dick Tomey. Tomey was a head coach at several schools for nearly 30 years, coaching for nearly 50 years total. In 1987 Arizona was 4-4-1. In 1988, Scherer and Tomey already had turned them into a winning program going 22-13 over the next three seasons never winning less than 7 games. This helped lead Scherer to his first head coaching position at James Madison in 1991.

Finally a Head Coach 

Finally after 17 years of being an assistant coach Scherer was hired as the Head Coach of James Madison. He would lead the program to a 9-4 season his first year as head coach and finish with a winning record three of his four seasons with the school. He would collect a 29-19 record before Memphis liked what they saw and came calling. Jumping from the Yankee Conference to a Division IA Independent and later Conference USA.

Rip Scherer

He would stick with Memphis for six seasons completing the decade of the 90’s as a head coach. However his time with Memphis didn’t go as planned with six straight losing seasons. He would be let go after the 2000 season with a record of 22-44. Despite this he still managed to produce 8 more NFL draft picks including a quartet of defensive backs drafted in the third round or better; Jerome Woods, Mike McKenzie, Idrees Bashir, and Michael Stone. 

Back to the Assistant Coaching Ranks 

After this stint with Memphis, Scherer would spend one season with Kansas but their head coach was fired midseason, and they cleaned house that offseason. He spent one season away from football before returning with Southern Miss as their Offensive Coordinator under longtime Head Coach Jeff Bower. He only stayed for two seasons but during that stretch went 16-9. Offensive lineman Jeremy Parquet was selected in the 7th round under his watch. 

First NFL Experience 

CLEVELAND – SEPTEMBER 9: Quarterback Derek Anderson #7 of the Cleveland Browns replaces Charlie Frye #9 as quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer looks on during the second quarter of a game with the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 9, 2007 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Pittsburgh won 34-7. Derek Anderson07-1208013 (Photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns ultimately decided to hire Scherer in 2005. He would serve as the Quarterbacks Coach, and Assistant Head Coach under Romeo Crennel. They won just 10 games over the next two seasons. Before leading Derek Anderson to a 10-6 record and a pro-bowl in 2007. By 2008, they were the Browns again 4-12. In 2009 the Browns transitioned to a new coaching staff and Scherer transitioned to the Panthers as a QB coach. 

He again was tasked with taking a former backup quarterback and making him a viable starter. This time it was Matt Moore, an undrafted free agent two seasons earlier. He would have the best five game stretch of his career in his first year under Scherer, completing 61.2% of his passes for 8 tds and 2 ints, Good enough for a 98.5 QBR. In 2010 they selected Jimmy Clausen and asked Scherer again to work with a young developmental quarterback all over again. The Panthers bottomed out with a 2-14 record resulting in John Fox and his staff being let go. 

Back to the College Ranks

In 2011 he joined the Colorado Buffaloes, as the Assistant Head Coach and Quarterback Coach working with Eric Bienemy current Washington Commanders Offensive Coordinator, Jon Embree currently the Assistant Head Coach/Tight End Coach in Miami. This group would win 4 games in two seasons. However during the 2010 season he coached Tyler Hansen to the best season of his career after coming off the bench the previous three seasons. In 2011 he worked with Jordan Webb previously of Kansas. 


He served as an associate athletic director for UCLA upon first arriving in 2013. In 2016-2017 he oversaw tight ends for UCLA which actually helped lead him back to the NFL with the Chargers in 2018 where he would help sign one of his players from UCLA, TE Austin Roberts. In 2017, he worked with Devin Asiasi who would later get selected in round 3 by the Patriots. Caleb Wilson another tight end was selected in the 7th round. 

Back to the NFL

In 2018 Scherer jumped from college back into the NFL with the Chargers, this time coaching under his former player, Ken Whisenhunt. He oversaw quarterbacks and tight ends for LA from 2018-2020. Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator until 2019. In 2018 he coached Phillip Rivers to one of the best seasons of his career. He completed 68.3% of his passes throwing 32 touchdowns, to just 12 interceptions. He would play one more season for the Chargers before moving on to Indy in 2020. The Chargers started hot with a 12-4 record but fizzled out going 24-24 record total during Scherer’s time there. 

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During the 2019-2020 seasons he helped develop Hunter Henry who has developed into a quality NFL tight end. After missing all of 2018 due to an injury, Henry was targeted 169 times over the next two seasons. He caught 115 passes for 1,265 yards, and 9 touchdowns during these two seasons under Scherer. He has never matched his targets, receptions, or yardage since. 

Rip Scherer’s best work likely came with rookie Justin Herbert in 2020. The young quarterback came in ready to compete but regarded as someone who still had some development to do before he was ready to lead a team. The Chargers microwaved his development and spit out one of the best rookie performances by a quarterback ever. Herbert completed 66% of his passes for 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, adding 234 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. Herbert was voted rookie of the year, while Scherer was…replaced…wait what?? 

Transitioning to an Advisor Role, or Preparing to be a Head Coach?

That’s right. Scherer helps Justin Herbert to this performance and then is let go before the 2021 season due to a coaching change once again. He spent 2021 out of football before being spending a year a piece at the University of Connecticut and then the University of Alabama Birmingham as a Senior Advisor to the Head Coach. Let’s not undersell the connections he made working with UAB. Keep in mind that’s where Danny Mitchell now coaches. 

Mitchell was the offensive coordinator for the Vienna Vikings in 2022 during a Championship run before being hired to work with Trent Dilfer at UAB. UAB has struggled in 2023, but that didn’t prevent Scherer from finding his first opportunity to be a Head Coach at the professional level. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if we see Scherer find success overseas. Looking at some of the places he’s coached as of late, he can certainly pull talent with him from UAB, University Of Connecticut, some of the bottom level players from the Chargers, and maybe even some of the younger guys he coached at UCLA. He has connections across the NCAA landscape. Bringing in a coach with very current college ties is a great way to lure talent overseas. 

Madrid Launches for 2024

The Madrid Bravos look to bring another team to Spain in 2024, next to the very successful Barcelona Dragons. The team is owned and operated by Marlos Sports. Jaime Martin Lostao is the general manager, who has been hard at work forming relationships with the top teams in the country to try and draw talent from Spain’s primary football league. Multiple teams: Las Rozas Black Demons, Madrid Osos Rivas and Coslada Camioneros have agreed to work with Madrid to help elevate Spanish players, and create a sort of farm system for the ELF team. 

Now with their new Head Coach in tow, the front office now turns their attention to finding and cementing their home stadium for 2024, while coach can focus on building his staff. With about 6 months before the season, the Bravos are beginning to really take shape for the 2024 season. I’m curious to see the coaching staff Scherer builds after forming five decades of coaching relationships across the country. Maybe, he can even lure Mitchell back to the ELF as his OC/QB coach in 2024?

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