Bruce Arians has never been shy about where he grew up or his ability to connect with young, African-American players. He spent his childhood in York, Pennsylvania in predominately black neighborhoods, often being the only white guy on his sports teams. That has certainly had some influence in his coaching career. See, Arians isn’t worried about what color someone is. He just simply wants the best coaches he can assemble.
When featured on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Arians was asked if he purposely put so many minority coaches in prominent positions. The Bucs have minority coaches at Offensive, Defensive, and Special Teams coordinators, a minority assistant Head Coach, and two female coaches. Arians was as blunt and straight forward as you’d expect;
“They’re just the best guys that I know. It was partly by design but it was ‘if I can get these guys, we’re set.’ (Race) didn’t play a role in the decision.”
Andrea Kramer, who conducted the interviews, got some insight from Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles and Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich. Bowles said;
“We’re just great football coaches who are African-American. It’s not, I’m a black coach or I’m a white coach.”
As for Leftwich - who wouldn’t be coaching at all if it weren’t for Bruce Arians strong-arming him into giving it a try - knows that these positions, these jobs, aren’t gifts. That these coaches were hired for a reason;
“He’s not in here just trying to fix the minority coaching problem in the National Football League. If he don’t feel right about it, he’s not gonna do it. So, for all of us to be here - in his eyes - we’ve all earned this. He don’t give you anything. He’s not laying anything on the platter for you, if you really know him.”
Kramer would go on to ask about the message Arians is trying to send by having minority coaches - including the two female coaches - on his staff in significant positions. Arians told her;
“Great teachers shouldn’t be held back because of gender or race. If they can teach, they should have an opportunity.
I’ve been promoting my coaches from ever, anytime. I think if you sit out on the practice field you’d discover I wasn’t (back in coaching just to promote minority coaches). I still get after their ass pretty good.”
At the end of the day, Arians is the right man for this job and he’s hired all the right people to surround himself with no matter their gender or race. Great football coaches are great football coaches. Period. This year is going to be a culture shock for those in the building as well as those who follow the team. The play style will be completely different. The attitude will be completely different. The culture will be completely different.
Hopefully, the results will be completely different.