Central Michigan hires Detroit Lions assistant as new coach

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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — John Bonamego is leaving the NFL and returning to Central Michigan, going back to the school where he was once a player to take over as the Chippewas' new coach.

Bonamego was the special teams coordinator for the Detroit Lions the past two seasons. CMU said he'll be introduced at a news conference Monday.

"Since I left CMU in 1987, my dream job was to be the head coach of the Central Michigan football program. Today, that dream came true," Bonamego said in a statement Sunday. "During my time here, I had some of the best experiences of my life and I expect to make many, many more in the coming years. The Mount Pleasant community is a very special place and my family and I are excited to be a part of it."

The Chippewas lost coach Dan Enos on Jan. 22 when he left to become the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. The search for a replacement lasted through signing day, but now CMU welcomes back Bonamego, who earned varsity letters at the school in 1985-86.

"John has all the traits we wanted," athletic director Dave Heeke said. "He has an extraordinary passion for Central Michigan. John knows how fantastic this university and community are, and he understands the responsibility that comes with being our head coach."

Central Michigan went 7-6 last season, reaching a bowl for the sixth time in the last nine seasons. The Chippewas have won at least six games in each of the last three seasons, and they also produced offensive lineman Eric Fisher, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

"It's clear to me that this program has a very solid foundation. We will work every day to achieve the championship level," Bonamego said. "Our team will compete with a strong passion and work ethic in everything we do, from on the field, to in the classroom and in the community. It's a priority that we help our student-athletes develop into great young men who will make an impact on those around them for the rest of their lives."

Bonamego has spent 16 years in the NFL as an assistant, primarily as a special teams coordinator.

"John fully embraces the championship culture we've built here at CMU. Creating an exceptional experience for all our football student-athletes is a top priority for him," Heeke said. "John has worked with some of the top coaches in football, and those individuals hold him in high regard. He knows what it takes to build a successful program and will do that here at Central Michigan."

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