An empty pedestal sits among those bearing nine bronze statues in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza outside Yager Stadium at Miami (Ohio) University.
It is reserved for Rams coach Sean McVay.
In June, Miami confirmed plans for a statue of McVay, a RedHawks receiver from 2004 to2007. The full-body sculpture of the 36-year-old McVay will join those of Paul Brown, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, Weeb Ewbank, John Harbaugh and others who attended Miami before beginning their decorated coaching careers.
A plaque in the plaza also honors Woody Hayes, Sid Gillman and others who coached at the university, which competes in the Mid-American Conference.
David Sayler, Miami’s athletic director, said Friday that the empty pedestal was constructed in 2014, when Harbaugh’s statue was unveiled.
“I would not go as far as to say it was built for Sean,” Sayler said, “but we were very well aware of Sean’s ascension, and what was possible, and wanted to be prepared to celebrate him.”
McVay has enjoyed a meteoric rise as an NFL coach. In 2014, after one season as a Tampa Bay assistant and four with Washington, McVay was named Washington’s offensive coordinator.
In 2017, the Rams made the then-30-year-old McVay the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. A year later, McVay guided the Rams to the Super Bowl. Last February, he led the Rams to victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
McVay is the third Miami alum to coach a Super Bowl champion, joining Ewbank and Harbaugh, who won titles with the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens, respectively.
Since Tuesday, the Rams have been in Cincinnati, located about 40 miles southeast of Oxford. They held joint practices with the Bengals on Wednesday and Thursday and the teams will play their final preseason game Saturday.
Asked if he ever thought he would have a statue at Miami, McVay was quick to joke.
“No,” he told reporters after one of the joint practices, “I'm too young for that right now.
“It's certainly very humbling and that is really a reflection of me being around great people, great players and coaches. If we weren't able to do some great things as a team, they’re not putting my statue up there.”
McVay’s family has history at Miami. His grandfather, John, is a former RedHawk and was part of five Super Bowl titles as an executive with the San Francisco 49ers. His uncle, John, also played at Miami.
“Being a third-generation player there, and knowing the experiences that have taken place there are just so instrumental in my growth and development,” McVay said. “It's all about people and that's what makes Miami a special place.”
McVay has met with sculptor Kristen Visbal and sat for a body scan, Sayler said. Ideally, the plan is to unveil the statue next April, he said.
Chris Shula, the Rams’ defensive backs coach, is certain to be there. McVay was teammates with Shula at Miami. Shula is the grandson of the late Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history.
“We both come from football family backgrounds,” McVay said, “and then to play at a really good university that's a great football program that has a lot of great coaches that have come through there.
“We're just trying to do right by the history and the legacy that a lot of others have built before us.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.