A native of Shelbyville, Tennessee, Charlie Coffey came to the University of Tennessee to play football for General Robert Neyland. While at UT he played guard for the Vols, lettered from 1953-55 and was selected as the team captain his senior year. Coffey also maintained the highest grade average for four years of any member of the UT squad.
After graduating from the University of Tennessee, Coffey began his coaching career as an assistant football coach at Hialeah High School in Miami, Florida. He spent the next five years at Southeastern Louisiana State University. His next move was to George Washington University in Washington D.C., then back to his alma mater for two years coaching for Jim McDonald and Doug Dickey. In 1965, Coffey received an offer to join Frank Boyles’ staff at the University of Arkansas as defensive coordinator.
During that time, Coffey was earning a reputation as a strong leader and an excellent football coach. After 5 years coaching at Arkansas with Boyles, three schools tried to recruit Coffey for their head coach positions. The first school he visited was Virginia Tech and in 1971 without even visiting the other schools, he became their Head Football Coach. Charlie Coffey was the head coach of the Virginia Tech football program from 1971 to 1973.
After he arrived in Blacksburg, Coffey established a potent passing attack, which resulted in Hokies quarterback Don Strock leading the nation in total passing and total offense in 1972. When Coffey arrived in Blacksburg in 1971, he set the program awash in orange, made a whirlwind media tour of the state to promote the Virginia Tech football team and improved the athletic facilities.
Most significantly, the new coach broke with Tech tradition and installed a pass-happy offense. Attendance at Virginia Tech football games increased to record breaking numbers. The highlight of the ’72 season came when Tech upset 19th-ranked Oklahoma State in Blacksburg. Dave Strock, Don’s brother, kicked the game-winning field goal with 12 seconds remaining to lift Tech to a 34-32 victory. Coffey entered the trucking business in 1975, and founded the Nationwide Express trucking company in 1981.