No place like next coaching job

Relocating has become a routine for Kyle DeVan. The 2003 Vacaville High School graduate would kick the habit if his livelihood did not depend on it. Assistant coaches in college football are always on the move.

DeVan’s coaching career began in 2013 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Oregon State.  He lived in Corvallis for five years and played four seasons with the Beavers, starting at center from  2005 to ’07.

Those five years were the last time DeVan lived in one city for more than three years. He played for four NFL teams in five seasons, including three with Indianapolis. He started for the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

Kyle Devan is coaching at UNC Charlotte, his seventh job in the past 11 seasons.

His playing career ended after the 2012 season with the Tennessee Titans. DeVan appeared in four games, starting one. There were weeks when the Titans signed DeVan on Tuesday and waived him on Saturday.

There may have been opportunities for DeVan to continue playing, but the notion of jumping every time his phone rang was not appealing. He wanted to start a family rather than go from one tryout to another.

DeVan’s NFL career prepared him to be a college assistant coach. He got his start at Oregon State and then went to USC as a graduate assistant. One season with the New Orleans Saints led to DeVan being hired at Ball State by head coach Mike Neu, who was with the Saints in 2015 when DeVan arrived.

Three years at Ball State were followed by two years at Arizona, one at Michigan and last season at Colorado. When the Buffaloes hired Deion Sanders, DeVan realized it was once again time to move on – and away.

As with Neu, one season at Michigan led to DeVan being hired by Biff Poggi at UNC Charlotte after Poggi resigned as the Wolverines associate head coach to become the head honcho for the 49ers. 

The 38-year-old Devan is the associate head coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator in Charlotte.

“Being here, I really like what I’m getting to do. This is what I want to do,” DeVan said in a recent phone interview. “I’m in on everything. I set our (daily) schedule and practice formats. I’m really cherishing this.”

Charlotte has more than football to offer DeVan, his wife Erin, son Bode and daughter Lola. DeVan was surprised by the warm welcome his family received as compared with other cities where they have lived.

“It’s a younger, blue collar community. I think I’m the oldest guy living here,” DeVan joked. “Most of the time when we moved, it’s taken a while to make friends. We already have a ton of new friends here. They had a welcome party for us and there are a lot of kids that are my kids’ age. This feels like home.”

UNC Charlotte will never be mistaken for Michigan, USC or any other Power 5 program. DeVan does not think of his new job as settling for less. UNC Charlotte joined the American Athletic Conference in July. Seven AAC teams played in 2022-23 bowl games and finished 4-3. The Big 12 went 2-7.

No longer does DeVan measure a job by prestige and salary. “I’ve coached at the highest level and made that kind of money,” said DeVan, who added his goals have changed since his first coaching job.

Spending the 2021 season at Michigan as an offensive analyst “was an awesome experience. I was learning and growing again. At 36, I knew I didn’t know everything. A lot has changed in two years.”

DeVan is learning what it will take to be a Division I head coach because he is determined to be one in the near future. His duties at UNC Charlotte are preparing him for such an opportunity when it comes.

And when it presents itself, DeVan would rather not think of how he will break the news to Erin  that the family might have to move again. He joked that his wife has let it be known that he will be going alone.

His aspirations have not blinded DeVan from realizing the constant moving is taking a toll on his family. Yanking his children out of one school and enrolling them in another is hardly ideal for their education. 

“(Erin) isn’t ready to move again,” he said. “I don’t want to leave. I love where I’m at. I don’t want to move again.”

All the cardboard moving boxes in the garage will not be flattened and stuffed into the recycling bin anytime soon. This is Poggi’s first year with the 49ers, so hopefully he and Devan will be together for a season or three.

Erin could use a break.

“(Erin) isn’t ready to move again,” he said. “I don’t want to leave. I love where I’m at. I don’t want to move again.”