SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Former Vikings assistant coach Fred Pagac is 63 years old, a Woody Hayes disciple and the living, breathing definition of the term gruff. He’s also an OK dancer, according to Broncos star outside linebacker Von Miller.
“He’s better than Coach [Wade] Phillips,” said Miller, referring to the team’s 68-year-old defensive coordinator.
So maybe “OK” is going overboard on the fleetness of Fred’s feet. But as Denver’s outside linebackers coach, Pagac is passing muster and then some, according to Miller, the guy who had 2½ sacks and an interception in one of the more dominant conference title games in NFL history.
“Coach Pug has seen it all,” Miller said Tuesday at the Santa Clara Marriott, Denver’s Super Bowl 50 hotel. “He’s coached Bill Romanowski [in Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII], Chad Greenway in Minnesota and all these great linebackers. So he can deal with any personality.”
Pagac was Vikings linebackers coach from 2006 until Brad Childress was fired after 10 games in 2010. Pagac served as Leslie Frazier’s defensive coordinator for the next 22 games before returning to linebackers coach in 2012 and 2013.
“Pug does a great job of dealing with everybody in the locker room,” Miller said. “You saw him dancing the other day, right? He’s just that type of guy. He’s a very good coach who knows how to get the best out of you. He knows how to push you.”
Video of Pagac dancing with Miller on the sideline in the closing seconds of Denver’s AFC Championship game win over New England became a popular Internet hit recently. Miller is shown standing on the team’s bench rolling his hands in circles and then thrusting them far apart. “Pug” was shown facing Miller and doing the same movements.
The obvious next question: Did the old-school coach see the video online?
“He saw it,” Miller said. “It was pretty funny. He got a kick out of it.”