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Mr. Carmichael’s resume included two stints at Boston College.
Mr. Carmichael’s resume included two stints at Boston College.Boston College

The Boston College-University of Miami football game at the Orange Bowl on Nov. 23, 1984, is best remembered for quarterback Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass to Gerard Phelan that gave the Eagles a 47-45 upset win over the defending national champions.

Former BC head coach Jack Bicknell, however, also remembers a moment that followed the game-ending play.

"As soon as we got into the locker room," he said, "our defensive backfield coach, Pete Carmichael, stood up on a bench and shouted, 'Way to go defense,' after we had given up more than 400 passing yards and several rushing touchdowns

"That just cracked me up," Bicknell added, "but Pete also had a great sense for the game, was the smartest guy I've ever been around, and our players loved him."

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Mr. Carmichael, whose coaching career of more than 45 years included 10 seasons in the National Football League, died Jan. 22 after suffering a heart attack at his Mendon home. He was 74.

"Coach Carmichael made a difference in my life," said Tony Thurman, a BC Hall of Famer and All-American defensive back. "He saw the raw talent in me and knew if he could harness it, he could put me in a position to succeed. He had the gift of finding common ground with you and keeping things in perspective."

Mr. Carmichael's resume included two stints at Boston College, first on Joe Yukica's staff from 1968-72, and the second from 1981-1993 under Bicknell and then Tom Coughlin.

Football and family were Mr. Carmichael's joys, and they often intertwined. His son, Pete Jr. of Destrehan, La., the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, remembered standing on the BC sidelines as a youngster, holding Bicknell's headset cord.

"I was always at dad's office or at practice and in the locker room," he recalled. "In his heart, BC was the most special stop in his coaching career."

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Mr. Carmichael and his son, who was a star quarterback at Medway High School and a baseball captain at BC, coached together for one season, with the Cleveland Browns in 2000. Mr. Carmichael was offensive coordinator and Pete Jr. was an assistant offensive coach.

When the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010, Mr. Carmichael, his wife, and two daughters were at Sun Life Stadium in Miami to share the moment with Pete Jr.

Born in 1941, Peter Edwards Carmichael was a three-sport athlete and captain of the football and baseball teams at North Plainfield High in New Jersey. As quarterback at Montclair State University he led the team to consecutive 6-2 seasons and graduated in 1963.

After one season as head coach at Watchung Hills High in New Jersey, Mr. Carmichael entered the college ranks. Along with his time at BC, his work included serving as head coach at Trenton State and the Merchant Marine Academy, and as an assistant at Virginia Military Institute, Trenton State, the University of Pittsburgh, Louisiana Tech, and Tufts University.

Mr. Carmichael left BC to join Coughlin's staff with the Jacksonville Jaguars as wide receivers coach. After his short stint with Cleveland, he was an assistant with the Chicago Bears for two seasons.

"He was always upbeat and we called him Hoag, as in Hoagy Carmichael," said Bicknell, a lifelong friend who hired Mr. Carmichael at BC. "He could really push my buttons and he kept everyone loose."

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Bicknell said that one time Mr. Carmichael got him so riled up at a coaches meeting that he threw his pipe at him. "The pipe shattered and the next day Pete walks into the meeting with the taped-up pipe in his mouth, and he was smoking it. I could tell you a thousand more stories about him."

Barry Gallup, BC's athletic director for football and alumni relations and a former defensive line coach for the Eagles, recalled that Mr. Carmichael "brought a lot of energy to the program, and was a great role model for me from day one. Once, when I was considering leaving BC for a college head coaching job, Pete advised me, 'Make sure you're in the right situation with the right people,' which led to my turning it down."

Mr. Carmichael, whose daughters Layni Ratcliffe of Holliston and Kathy Hight of Shrewsbury were cross-country and track athletes at Medway High, married Elaine Timm in 1966. With their children, the Carmichaels traveled through all the lower 48 states and, as a couple, to Hawaii and Alaska.

"When we got to the welcome sign at each state," Pete Jr. said, "we always pulled over to take a family photo."

In addition to his wife and children, Mr. Carmichael leaves 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. April 1 in St. Mary's Catholic Church in Holliston.

Mr. Carmichael's final coaching stop was at Tufts from 2008-2010.

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"Every day was a history lesson with Hoag and you had to be on your toes," said Jay Civetti, head football coach at Tufts. "One day he'd come to practice and say something like, 'In 1957, what were the top three songs on the Billboard chart?' And of course he knew the answer."

Civetti said Mr. Carmichael also "brought in films from his BC days to help us analyze different situations. He would describe a play from 20 years ago and you felt like you were standing on the sideline. He had an amazing football mind."

Pete Jr. witnessed his father's passion for the game at BC.

"I realized that was something I wanted to be part of," he said. "I wanted to be like him, and when I went into coaching, my dad told me to be yourself, be fair, and be honest, and good things will happen."


Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.