Became Senior Class President
Local youths could dream of a way out of the steel industry; McDonald's Fort Cherry High School had an impressive football program that also produced future San Diego Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer and several other NFL players and coaches. A quarterback in midget football, Lewis took to sports immediately, joining the football, baseball, and wrestling teams, and often changing out of his garbage collecting clothes and into his team uniform on his way to practices or games. He excelled as a safety and quarterback on the football field and became president of his senior class.
Lewis planned to attend Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, but he changed his mind when he heard about an open football scholarship at faraway Idaho State University, in Boise, and applied, hoping to save his parents his tuition bills. He was admitted and began studying engineering, his determination to succeed strengthened after spending a summer working at a steel mill's coke ovens back in Pennsylvania and sweating in the blast of their 2,800-degree temperatures. Too small to dream of a professional career himself, he continued to pursue football with a passion and began to dream of becoming an NFL coach.
His father Marvin, Sr., who had hoped for a stable career in the engineering profession for his son, did not take this news well. But Lewis—according to Chick Ludwig of the Dayton Daily News—convinced his father by telling him to think back on his 31 years in the mills: "Daddy, you go into that mill every day and you hate that job. I want to do what I love to do," Lewis said. Fresh out of Idaho State, where he three times won All-Big Sky Conference honors as a linebacker, quarterback, and safety (in 1978, 1979, and 1980), Lewis was hired as a graduate assistant in 1981 by his alma mater at an annual salary of $10,000.
Brief BiographiesBiographies: C(hristopher) J(ohn) Koch Biography - C.J. Koch comments: to Sir (Alfred Charles) Bernard Lovell (1913– ) BiographyMarvin Lewis Biography - Became Senior Class President, Hired As Assistant Coach, Took Visible Role In Cincinnati