One of the men in the coaches box for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday will be someone who is making a return to the Super Bowl a bit earlier than he expected. Sitting beside offensive coordinator Mike Shula will be assistant wide receivers coach Cam Turner, a Citadel grad, former quarterback and coach. And making trips to the Super Bowl is something of a family tradition for Turner.
"He told me to treat it like a normal game week, bye week, when you get there enjoy it. Enjoy everything about it because you never know when you'll get back," Turner said of advice from his father. "So I have taken his advice, enjoyed it, a lot of hard work but been good."
Turner's father should know. Ron Turner is the former Bears offensive coordinator and was in a Super Bowl game in 2007. In fact, that's the same year Cam Turner was a knob at The Citadel.
"I can't really explain it. It hasn't hit me yet. I've watched every year since I can remember," Cam Turner said.
That's where the problem started.
"Freshman year at The Citadel, you are a knob, no weekends off, let alone nights. I had to plead. I asked for leave, which is unheard of for freshmen. I had to do paperwork, go through channels, talk to the right people," Turner said. "At first, it was a no, I can't leave because it's not an emergency or a death in family. It's a Super Bowl."
Turner and then-head coach Kevin Higgins threw a Hail Mary pass and it somehow connected.
"I'm probably the first knob to get special leave to go to the Super Bowl -- ever -- but I came back and heard about it from upper classmen. They weren't happy I got a leave, got treated special. I had to do extra afterwards," he said.
In only nine years since, he's worked his way back from coaching at The Citadel to Division I to the NFL and now to the Panthers.
"It's much easier to go through those hoops, get some papers signed, talk to some people, be on good behavior and get leave, much easier to do that," Turner said.
"It's a dream of every player or coach to be involved in the Super Bowl. That's where I am now, and nine years ago I wouldn't have dreamed it, worked it, it's here, it's surreal."
There's a bit of irony in Sunday's game. His father's Bears lost that 2007 matchup. The winning quarterback was Peyton Manning, who the Panthers will face Sunday.
In addition to Turner, two other Carolina coaches have ASN-affiliated school relations: defensive line coach Sean McDermott is from William & Mary and offensive line coach John Matsko is from Kent State.
Above: Video package courtesy WCIV, Charleston, S.C.