OGDEN — It took a year, but Jody Sears once talked Timm Rosenbach into giving up work on a charter boat in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to take his first coaching job at an NAIA school in Iowa.
So maybe convincing Rosenbach to join his old high school and Washington State teammate in Ogden to become Weber State’s offensive coordinator wasn’t that difficult.
At Washington State, Sears, now Weber State’s head coach, was a walk-on; Rosenbach became a Heisman contender who went on to play in the NFL, but their bond of friendship from Pullman High remained strong. Rosenbach’s first college touchdown pass went to Sears’ brother Todd.
Before his breakthrough year in 1988, Rosenbach (pronounced Rosenbah) was a redshirt freshman quarterback who wanted to switch to defensive back and a struggling sophomore who set the Pac-10 record for interceptions. With a new coach and a new system that turned him loose, Rosenbach finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting in ’88 and was an honorable mention All-American.
He had never been seriously injured in high school or college, but his NFL career was stunted by injuries. Rosenbach took every snap of the 1990 season for the Phoenix Cardinals — 1,001 of them, he says — and threw for over 3,000 yards, but in 1993, Rosenbach walked away from the Cardinals after four years in the NFL, leaving $1.05 million on the table and detailing his desire to get out of the game and the pro football lifestyle in an interview with the New York Times.
He went back to Washington State to work on his degree and spent some time team roping at rodeos with his buddy Jody.
“I was fed up. I didn’t like the way I was, pretty much immature,” Rosenbach said. “I started to think about things I didn’t need to be thinking about, as far as what could happen. I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing. Probably that part of my life I could have done without, but it just kind of happened that way,” Rosenbach said.
Eventually, he came back to football.
“When you’re a competitor, you can only sit around for so long before you’re like, OK, this is me, this is what I do, this is what I’ve always done. Let’s go,” he said.
It was a different brand of football, however. Rosenbach went to the Canadian Football League to play for the Hamilton TigerCats in 1994.
“You called your own plays, you didn’t have a lot of time with a 20 second clock. It was go-go-go. It was like playing in a parking lot. The field is huge,” he said. “It was an adjustment. It’s a different game, you have 12 guys on the field and three downs.”
He played 11 games there before the TigerCats ran out of money to pay his contract.
There was one more chance to play in the NFL: He signed with the New Orleans Saints in 1995, but he injured his back during the minicamp and spent the year on the injured list. His playing career was over for good.
Sears was hired at NAIA school St. Ambrose as defensive coordinator in 1998 and tried to get his friend to join him. Rosenbach turned him down the first year, but became St. Ambrose’s quarterbacks coach the following season to start his coaching career.
He has also made coaching stops at Eastern Washington — the Eagles led the nation in total offense his first season as offensive coordinator — Washington State, New Mexico State and Montana.
Sears’ second try at getting Rosenbach to onboard with the St. Ambrose Fighting Bees wasn’t too tough, Sears said — Rosenbach had already been planning to help out a junior college and was happy to join his friend. Rosenbach, a coach’s son, said he realized he was ready to get into coaching when he realized he was talking about football all the time.
Their relationship made recruiting Rosenbach to Ogden an easier sell as well.
Rosenbach said he loved Missoula, where he was a three-sport athlete at Hellgate High School before moving to Pullman, Wash., he loved the University of Montana, where his dad Lynn had coached before becoming an associate AD at Washington State.
“This last year has been pretty full of turnover and turmoil (at Montana),” he said. “It’s a weird time. I loved working for (Griz coach) Mick (Delaney) and working with the guys on the staff.”
The Big Sky is going to be conference with great parity, Rosenbach said.
“Eventually they’re going to add another team, and you’re going to have a lot of teams that are doing a great job recruiting. I don’t think the powerhouses are going to be the powerhouses every year,” he said. “I think Weber’s got an opportunity to be a place from a facility standpoint, where it’s located and how much access to recruits, it’s a place that can be successful. With Jody there, it makes that decision (to come to Weber State) a little bit easier.”
With Sears coaching last season as Weber State’s interim head coach, Rosenbach’s hiring was announced at the same time Weber State announced it had signed Sears to a three-year contract extension. Rosenbach replaced former offensive coordinator Matt Hammer, who took a job as the head coach at Weber High School.
“(Rosenbach) is a perfect fit,” Sears said, and his NFL experience brings credibility to Weber State’s recruiting.
Rosenbach calls Sears is the hardest worker he’s ever known, while Sears and his family have welcomed Rosenbach not only to Weber State but into their home until he has an opportunity to move his wife Kim and daughters Reece, 5, and Lane, 3, to Ogden.
“It’s almost like we’re brothers, we’ve spent so much time together,” Sears said. “He’s not afraid to tell me to go jump in a lake and I’m not to tell him to do the same thing.”