Saturday, January 17, 2009
In which I interrupt this basketball season to announce the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the official NFL team of Defiantly Dutch
If Raheem Morris' first act as Buccaneers head coach is to bring back Bucco Bruce--except in blue and gold--he will instantly become one of favorite people ever.
Was traveling all day Friday, so imagine my surprise when I got a text at 1:35 a.m. this morning from semi-loyal reader JG about the only other team I root for outside of the Flying Dutchmen: “Wow, shocker on Gruden.”
That was nothing, though, compared to the surprise of clicking on ESPN once we got settled in our hotel room and seeing the name of his likely successor: Raheem Morris. That’s the Raheem Morris who played safety at Hofstra from 1994-97, otherwise known as the bulk of the Defiantly Dutch Era, and spent time as a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach with the Flying Dutchmen in 1998 and 2000, respectively.
That’s right. Someone who played football while I was at Hofstra is now an NFL head coach. Boy I’m getting old and inconsequential.
I told my wife the news, to which she replied “Oh that’s convenient. Now you get to name the Buccaneers as the official NFL team of Defiantly Dutch.”
This is pretty interesting for multiple reasons beyond Morris’ Hofstra ties. He’s just 32, which will make him one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history. Morris has been viewed as a rapidly rising head coach candidate even though he hasn’t even coached a game as a coordinator: The Buccaneers promoted him from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator Christmas Day, after which he interviewed for the head honcho job with the Denver Broncos.
And Morris’ hiring is quite a feather in the cap of the NFL, which encourages diversity in its head coaching ranks with the “Rooney Rule.” But two years before the “Rooney Rule” was instituted, Morris began his coaching career as a minority intern with the Jets under Herm Edwards. I remember attending a press conference at Weeb Ewbank Hall in which Morris talked about the program. Who knew I was watching the birth of an NFL head coach?
It’s also interesting to examine the Bucs’ thought process here. Three of the four remaining head coaches in the NFL playoffs have been head coaches for two years or less. Clearly, the Bucs think they can be the next team to find a Mike Tomlin or John Harbaugh or Ken Whisenhunt.
And if I think I feel old and inconsequential, imagine how Gruden feels. It seems like he’s been the Hot Young Coach forever, but this is proof that the shelf life of a Hot Young Coach is finite. Gruden is only 46—younger than both Harbaugh and Whisenhunt—but he’s been an NFL head coach for 11 straight years and hasn’t won a playoff game since the Super Bowl following the 2002 season.
The Hot Young Coach is now, officially, a retread…shoved out of office for a Flying Dutchman. What a world. Go Bucs.
We didn’t forget there’s a basketball game today against Northeastern, the hottest team in the CAA. The Dutchmen will prove they have plenty of—wait for it!!—pride by coming up with a much better performance than the one they mustered up against Drexel Wednesday. I’ll even wager they’ll hold a lead!
Litos is keeping the faith about the Dutchmen and believes there will be a day when the gang that can’t shoot straight will become the gang that can’t miss. I don’t think there’s much chance of a breakout performance today, though, against a Northeastern team that has yet to be challenged since conference play began For Real. The Huskies have won all five CAA games this month by an average of 17 points.
Charles Jenkins is the pick to click—it has to happen at some point, right?—but I have a hard time imagining the Dutchmen derailing the Huskies’ juggernaut. Perhaps a competitive loss can give the Dutchmen something to build on with William & Mary and UNC-Wilmington—two of the CAA’s three one-win teams—on the docket within the next 11 days.
We won’t be at the game due to the unexpected out-of-state trip, but Sully Ray may step in with some thoughts. Stop back Monday to see if he’s as good with words as he is with T-shirts.
And in the meantime, check out this Litos’ excellent blog from Thursday in which he makes quite a good case for a 22-game CAA schedule. It makes so much sense, it’ll never happen.
Email Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org. And join the Defiantly Dutch group at Facebook today!