John Bonamego
John  Bonamego

Position:
Head Coach

Graduated:
1987


02/10/2017

Bonamego named Pete Schmidt Award winner

Deromedi will present honor to CMU football coach next week

09/03/2015

Central Michigan Falls Short to Oklahoma State in Season Opener, 24-13

The Chippewas look to bounce back against Monmouth.

02/09/2015

Bonamego Makes Big Impression at Introduction

02/08/2015

John Bonamego Named Head Football Coach

07/16/2016

Bono's First Pitch on CMU Night

Coach Bonamego threw out the first pitch on CMU night at Comerica Park. We recapped the events.

07/15/2016

Prepping for Bono's First Pitch

Coach Bonamego gets some advice from Coach Opalewsk,i on how to throw a good first pitch.

09/30/2017

USATSI Gallery - Central Michigan at Boston College

USATSI Gallery - Central Michigan at Boston College

09/16/2017

Central Michigan vs. Syracuse USATSI Gallery

Central Michigan vs. Syracuse - September 16, 2017

09/09/2017

CMU Football vs. Kansas

CMU Football vs. Kansas

12/19/2016

Tulsa 55, Central Michigan 10

The Chippewas fall to Tulsa in the Miami Beach Bowl, on December 19, 2016.

09/24/2016

Virginia 49, Central Michigan 35

Photos from Central Michigan @ Virginia on September 24, 2016.

In two seasons as a collegiate head football coach, John Bonamego has led Central Michigan to two bowl games, a victory over a Top-25-ranked team and one Mid-American Conference West Division co-championship.

Bonamego became the 28th head coach in Central Michigan football history on Feb. 8, 2015. Bonamego played at CMU for the legendary Herb Deromedi in the mid 1980s, and he proclaimed the position his “dream job” as he became the first CMU alum to lead the program since Bill Kelly from 1951-66.

Just months after being named to lead the Chippewas, Bonamego was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Bonamego was pronounced cancer free in November 2015, just as the Chippewas were surging down the stretch, winning five of their last six regular-season games.

In his first season in charge of the program, Bonamego led the Chippewas to a 7-6 finish, the Mid-American Conference West Division championship and a berth in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.

In 2016, CMU stunned No. 22-ranked Oklahoma State, winning on a no-time-on-the-clock final catch and lateral touchdown. The play was featured for days on sports shows and discussion over the penalty that led to CMU’s last-gasp play continued throughout the season. The Chippewas finished the season with an appearance in the Miami Beach Bowl.

CMU placed 15 players on the Academic All-MAC football team in 2016, and six players were named to the All-MAC Football Team. Amari Coleman and Malik Fountain were named to first team on defense; Corey Willis and Joe Ostman were named to the second team, Willis on offense, Ostman on defense; and Cooper Rush and Josh Cox were named to third team, Rush on offense, Cox on defense.

Rush, who earned All-MAC academic honors four consecutive years, was one of 12 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which goes to the top scholar-athlete in college football. Rush, who finished his career at CMU second all-time in the MAC with 12,891 passing yards, had 90 career touchdown passes. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in April.

Overall, 32 CMU players have earned Academic All-MAC honors and 14 have been named to All-MAC Football Teams in Bonamego’s two seasons at CMU.

Under Bonamego, the CMU football program continues to lend a hand in the Mount Pleasant Community and the region. Players and coaches volunteer for the annual Special Olympics games each spring, and helped with renovations and cleanup in March at Eagle Village, a home for teens, in Hersey, Mich.

Prior to taking the reins of the CMU program, Bonamego, who graduated from Paw Paw High School in southwest Michigan, spent 16 years in the National Football League as an assistant, primarily as a special teams coordinator. His NFL stops:

  • Detroit Lions, 2013-14, special teams coordinator. He helped punter Sam Martin record the top-two single-season marks for net punting average in team history with a 40.4-yard average in 2013 and a 40.1 mark in 2014.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars, 2012, special teams coordinator. He was instrumental in the development of rookie punter Bryan Anger, who set franchise records for punting average (47.8) and net punting average (40.8), with both totals leading all rookie punters.
  • New Orleans Saints, 2011, assistant special teams coordinator in a year the Saints went 13-3.
  • Miami Dolphins, 2008-10, special teams coordinator. Bonamego developed young specialists, including kicker Dan Carpenter, punter Brandon Fields, and kick returner Ted Ginn Jr. Carpenter was selected to the 2009 Pro Bowl after making 25 of 28 field goals. Fields set a franchise record for net punting average (39.9), and Ginn was the first NFL player in 42 years to have two returns for touchdowns in the same quarter. The Dolphins won the 2008 AFC East crown as they put together the biggest turnaround in NFL history, going from 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 in ’08.
  • New Orleans Saints, 2006-07, special teams coordinator. Bonamego was part of one of the most important games in NFL history: the first post-Katrina game in the Superdome. The Saints’ Steve Gleason blocked a punt vs. Atlanta, and the ball was recovered for a touchdown in the first quarter. New Orleans also blocked a field goal later in that game.
  • Green Bay Packers, 2003-05, special teams coordinator. The Packers had four game-winning field goals in 2004, the most by the team since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars, 1999-2001, assistant special teams coach. Bonamego worked as the assistant special teams coach under legendary NFL special teams coach Frank Gansz and was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2002. In Bonamego’s first season as the Jaguars’ special teams coordinator, the unit was ranked third by the Dallas Morning News. The Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship game in 1999 after winning the AFC Central title.

Bonamego earned his degree in health fitness from CMU in 1987 and turned to coaching immediately. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Central Michigan after serving as the university’s commencement speaker in May 2009.

He got his start in college coaching as an assistant at Maine from 1988-91. He went to Lehigh in 1992, and spent five years as an assistant with Army from 1993-98.

During his time at Army, the Black Knights beat Navy five of six times, and finished 10-2 in 1996, recording the only 10-win season in school history. Army played Auburn that season in the Poulan/Weed Eater Independence Bowl and finished in the top 25 in both major polls.

He was a player/coach for a football team in Verona, Italy, in spring of 1987 and was the junior varsity co-coach at Mount Pleasant High School in the fall of that year.

Bonamego and his wife, Paulette, have three children, Javier, Giovanni and Bellina.

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