2012 college football preview: Ben Cahoon working as hard as ever in new career

Published: Saturday, Aug. 25 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

PROVO — After retiring from the Canadian Football League, where he managed to have the most productive career by a receiver in that league's history, you'd think Ben Cahoon would coast into retirement.

But aside from the beating his body took every week, he hasn't slowed down at all.

Cahoon enters his second year as BYU's receivers coach. Where he used to catch a hundred passes a day and nurse bumps and bruises, he's now shifted all that energy into his coaching career. He's one of the first staff members to arrive to work at BYU and one of the last to leave.

A quiet, confident and studious guy, Cahoon has always been a smooth, consistent man. He is steady, dependable and motivated. An avid golfer, he'd fit right in a foursome with Rickie Fowler. He also has a smile that would fit under a wide-brimmed hat in one of those rugged cowboy movies.

He definitely would have looked more cowboy than Kevin Costner in "Open Range."

Getting his second wind on another career isn't tough; it's an adjustment. For Cahoon, it is still pedal to the metal at a hundred miles an hour.

Cahoon learned early in life, as a somewhat short receiver, that to make up the difference, he had to work harder and longer.

When he interviewed for the coaching job at BYU, there were dozens of qualified applicants. In order to make the right impression, he had to go above and beyond.

After all, his future boss slept in his office at Oregon State as a graduate assistant, paid his dues, started from scratch. Cahoon knew he didn't come from that background as a coach. He had to compensate. He had to prove his worth.

Cahoon made cards with pictures of every BYU player and memorized their names. He studied BYU game films so he could quickly answer questions and respond to inquiries about the Cougars when he met with head coach Bronco Mendenhall. He made a list of things he might bring to the table and other ideas BYU might consider.

Cahoon made a pledge to himself — and anyone who'd listen — that he would work harder than anybody else as a coach. Just like he's always done.

He got the job.

His wife, Kim, said when her husband hung up his uniform as the CFL's all-time leading receiver, he never had a chance to enjoy retirement, lounge around or ponder the question, "What now?"

"He was hired as the BYU receivers coach about one week after he announced his retirement and he has never looked back," Kim said.

She often asks Ben if he misses playing every week. "He always says 'no.' I think it's been harder on me than it has on him, frankly. I miss watching him play and I definitely miss the players' hours versus coaching hours. Adjusting to the long hours and long days has probably been the hardest part for both of us."

As a player, his season lasted about six months out of the year and he was home by 3 p.m. most days. As a coach, Cahoon works 12-hour days year-round with very little down time.

Said Kim, "We feel so incredibly blessed, though. To be able to start a second career at age 39, doing something you have a passion for is a dream."

Cahoon hasn't blinked an eye over leaving his CFL days. "I milked it for about all it was worth and got out. Not many professional athletes can say they don't miss the game, but I don't. It ran its course," said the CFL's two-time Most Outstanding Canadian Award winner.

He is more comfortable coaching now than he was his first year. Knowing his schedule, understanding his workload and an increased understanding of Brandon Doman's offense has made things easier.

"I think I'm a more effective teacher. I have a lot of room to grow there and it's important to me to continue to be a great teacher."

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