Stan Parrish, QB coach for Michigan football's national title team, dies at 75

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

For the last several years, Stan Parrish, who coached Tom Brady at Michigan, and former Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges would meet every Tuesday morning for coffee at the Saline Inn.

If it was football season, they’d discuss and break down the previous weekend’s college games and sometimes a few high school matchups. They’d talk politics. They’d talk baseball — Parrish was a Cleveland fan because he grew up there, and Borges has been a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan.

Stan Parrish was the Michigan quarterbacks coach from 1996-99, and then the offensive coordinator from 2000-01.

Parrish, who had been Michigan’s quarterback coach from 1996-1999 and then offensive coordinator from 2000-2001, died Sunday from cancer. He was 75. During his long coaching career, Parrish had been head coach at Wabash College, Marshall, Ball State and interim head coach at Eastern Michigan in 2013. He also spent time in the NFL and coached quarterbacks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002-2003).

“I went there today,” Borges said of their coffee meeting locale, “and it’s hard to walk in there.”

Parrish was on Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr’s staff and coached Brian Griese in 1997 during the Wolverines' unbeaten season and AP national championship. He also would coach Brady and Drew Henson.

In 2005, Parrish joined Brady Hoke’s Ball State staff. The two had worked together at Michigan. When Hoke left for San Diego State, Parrish took over as head coach from 2008-2010.

After graduating from Heidelberg College in 1968, Parrish began his coaching career at Windham (Ohio) High then became a graduate assistant at Purdue in 1975. He would take over as Wabash coach in 1978.

Borges, Michigan’s offensive coordinator from 2011-2013, described his friendship with Parrish as something that grew during “life after football."

They had actually met in the spring of 1999 when Borges, then at UCLA, joined the Bruins staff that dropped in to watch Michigan’s spring practice.

“He was the quarterback coach, so I talked to him more than I talked to anybody,” Borges said of their initial meeting. “To say we were bosom buddies, I can’t say that.”

They both lived in Saline and bumped into each other in mutual territory — Parrish’s son Andrew Parrish was the Saline High athletic director, and Borges’ son was a Saline student. Parrish kept urging Borges to join him for coffee. While Borges comes off as gregarious and affable, Parrish always had a tough-guy exterior, but was thoughtful and cared about his players.

“Everybody uses the word, ‘gruff’ to describe him, and that’s the word I would use. He’s gruff, but he’s really a good guy,” Borges said. “That’s kind of the way I felt about him when first time I met him. I said, I don’t know if he’s really my kinda guy.”

The more they got to know each other, the more they grew to appreciate one another. After Borges retired from coaching in 2018, their friendship really took shape.

“I had a different Stan Parrish. I had a retired, mellow Stan Parrish,” Borges said. “I didn’t get the competing football coach. And Stan and I had a mutual respect, so there were never any issues to start with, but he was a different guy when you don’t have to go out there and do battle every week and put your face on, because Stan always had his face on. He’d get out of bed pissed off.”

During those coffee meetings, it became a Tuesday Morning Quarterback session, as the two would break down the college games they had watched the previous weekend.

“Trust me, when we talked, we knew what we were talking about,” Borges said. “We would start with Michigan usually. Then we’d go on to every other team, usually Ohio State, because Stan’s wife (Ruth) was an Ohio State fan.

“You’ve got to remember, we called over 50,000 plays between us. We’ve got more football to talk about than you could count. But we didn’t just talk about that, we talked about politics, we talked about everything.”

They would meet and talk for nearly three hours. But as Parrish weakened from chemo, the coffee meetings would last about 45 minutes.

“The more I got to know him, we couldn’t live without each other after a while.” Borges said. “At the beginning, I wasn’t sure, but he filled a huge void for me. I started coaching my son’s 16U baseball team, he’d go watch my son play baseball. I would meet him at the Saline football games, road or home. We’d watch on the field. When football was over, we went to the Saline basketball games. It’s amazing how my relationship with him evolved.”

Borges said since he retired, Parrish had been his closest friend.

“This is a void,” Borges said. “I can’t say that it isn’t.”

Twitter: @chengelis