Both men came to the greater Washington, D.C. area with a goal of rejuvenating sports teams that had fallen out of national prominence.
Both men found success with historic title runs that they hope to parlay into long-term success.
And today they finally met in person, as Virginia Commonwealth Men's Basketball coach Shaka Smart met Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan at training camp practice.
"I read about [Smart] when I first came in [to Washington]. I was really, really kind of awed by what he's done since he's been here," Shanahan told the media. "He's got a great record. You can see how quickly he's turned the program around.
"Any time you go to the Final Four and accomplish what he has, you've got to have something special to you. I'm sure the college is very excited to have him, and rightfully so."
The respect was clearly mutual, as Shaka Smart told Redskins Nation's Larry Michael that Mike Shanahan's success transcends all sports.
"No question. I think coaching is coaching," he said. "Obviously the X's and O's are different depending on the sport, but in terms of motivating players, creating a connected environment on your team, creating unselfishness—I think that goes across the board.
"Coach Shanahan is one of the best."
Part of the Redskins' move to Richmond was a concerted effort to raise the city back to national prominence. This is a goal that Smart has been working toward since his arrival in Richmond in 2009.
"I love it," he said of Richmond. "My wife and my daughter really enjoy living here. I literally live about four-blocks away from where we are right now so enjoy the location, rally enjoy the people and then the fans we have of our program make this place a special place."
Smart was among the local residents who were excited by the Redskins' training camp move to the commonwealth's capital
"When the governor made the announcement, it was automatic excitement in the city," Smart explained. "There's a lot of football fans around here, obviously, in addition to basketball fans – and by the way you can be both – but we're really excited just that the Redskins are here.
"If you look at the turnout everyday, it's been great for the city, it's been great for the fans and I think anything that's good for the sports scene in Richmond is good for all of us."
Having the opportunity to walk around the grounds with general manager Bruce Allen, Smart said he was very impressed with what he saw from the facility and the athletes.
"It's a great place to be, great to see the guys out there working so hard. I love it," he said. "I'm always impressed when I see football at work because there are so many more players, so many more coaches, and the organization is terrific."