SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — They say one never forgets their roots, at least that seems to be true for Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

Long before Reid became a highly successful NFL coach, he toiled in the college ranks and among his stops was a stint on staff of legendary San Francisco State coach Vic Rowen.

After his college playing days ended at BYU, Reid stayed on to be an graduate assistant on head coach LaVell Edwards’ staff. He then got his chance to join Rowen’s staff in 1983 as the Gators offensive coordinator. He spent a couple seasons at SF State, masterminding the nation’s leading small college offense in passing yards and total offense.

On Wednesday, Reid was asked about those years and a smile etched across his face.

“I had stayed on at BYU and then went to San Francisco State to work for Vic Rowen who was an older coach, very well respected in the country, head of the college football coaches association,” Reid recalled. “He was a great teacher of coaches and players…It was a great learning ground for me. He gave me the opportunity to work which I appreciated.”

But SF State was a college division program so there wasn’t much of the glamour and frills of a big-time programs like California or Stanford.

“I’ve come a long way from selling hot dogs,” he said with a chuckle. “It was Division II, non-scholarship program. It was in a great conference — the Northern California Athletic Conference — a lot of great coaches and players. It was a great experience. It gave you that respect factor to where you are now. You appreciated it. You don’t take it for granted for being here. You feel very privileged to be in this position.”

Rowen, who died in 2013 at the age of 93, coached at SF State from 1961-1989 and helped build the Gators into a small-college powerhouse. He attracted top football talent including future NFL standouts Floyd Peters, Bill Baird, Charlie Fuller and Elmer Collett.

His coaching tree was equally impressive and included Reid, former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren and former UCLA head coach Bob Toledo.

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