The AFC and NFC Championship Games are this Sunday, with the winner of each moving on to the February 6th Super Bowl in the house that Jerry built. This we know. What we don't know is who will be playing. While we may come up with some prognostications later, there is one fact that a lot of people, mainly us Buccaneer fans are overlooking. With two very specific outcomes, the Bucs would have two former coaches competing for a Super Bowl. It happened previously when Tony Dungy led his Indianapolis Colts to a victory over Lovie Smith and the Bears in a game that validated Dungy as not only a fantastic person, but also a good coach.
Well, a few years later, the road is being paved for two former coaches to face off in the biggest game of the year.
Lovie Smith has already been to the big game against his former boss. Smith got his coaching start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a linebacker coach under Dungy back in the mid '90's. With names like Quarles and Brooks, I think we can say he did some good things here. From his stint in Tampa he went to the Rams, in 2001 where he took over as defensive coordinator and led the Rams to the Super Bowl, culminating in a loss to the upstart Patriots. 2004 led Lovie to the Bears, where he's been up and down and on the hot seat about every 5 minutes, but yet he's endured to take them to another Super Bowl.
Mike Tomlin was another young coach on the Bucs, back in 2001. He started as a college coach but worked his way up to be a defensive backs coach under Dungy (for a year). Tomlin stayed on as DB coach until he went to the Vikings in 2006 as defensive coordinator. After one year on the job, the Pittsburgh Steelers took Tomlin to be their third coach in 342909 years (alright, less than that, but you get the drift). Tomlin has taken the Steelers to one Super Bowl (and won it) and looks to be headed to a second.
Not only does this show two of the branches of the Dungy coaching tree, but brings some credence to the Bucs organization. Coaches will come and go and it's impossible to keep all of these talented coaches under one roof. Each guys success is just a reminder that the Bucs have been on the right path with their coaching hires.
So as Sunday rolls around, you may find yourself looking for a reason to root for, or against one of the four remaining teams. Just keep this article in mind when you think that the Bucs should be there. If the Steelers beat the Jets and the Bears handle the Packers, we'll see two former Bucs coaches square off (again) for the Super Bowl.
Pretty interesting side story if you ask me.