Bucs benefit from Coughlin’s sign of respect

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Posted February 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

BY IRA KAUFMAN

TAMPA—Tom Coughlin could have said no.

After leading the New York Giants to a second Super Bowl title within five seasons, Coughlin could have blocked Tampa Bay’s request to interview Mike Sullivan, Coughlin’s long-time assistant dating back to their days together in Jacksonville.

Instead, after some conversations that Sullivan admitted were difficult, Coughlin gave his blessing and the Buccaneers quickly had themselves an offensive coordinator for Greg Schiano’s new staff. From a selfish standpoint, Coughlin certainly didn’t want to lose Sullivan, who had worked wonders with New York receivers before switching to quarterback coach the past two seasons and helping Eli Manning reach elite status.

But out of respect for a key assistant, Coughlin reluctantly allowed Sullivan to pursue his dreams in Tampa.

“He will bring a lot to the Buccaneers program,’’ Coughlin said. “He’s disciplined, he’s hard-working, he’s efficient, he’s smart, he makes good decisions,’’ Coughlin said upon Sullivan’s departure. “He’ll have an immediate impact on all the players in that program. We’re sorry to lose him, but we understand the nature of this business.’‘

Sullivan describes Coughlin as his mentor and role model.

“He’s been such a great man,’’ Sullivan said. “He gave me an opportunity in Jacksonville, he gave me the opportunity to come up here (New York) and at a time when a lot of coaches and a lot of general managers are blocking assistants from having a chance to pursue other opportunities, advancements if you will, I will be eternally grateful for Coach Coughlin and (GM) Jerry Reese supporting me in this.’‘

Sullivan has been working overtime with some of Schiano’s other offensive staff members to install a system suited for Tampa Bay’s personnel. Schiano is on record saying he wants a physical offense that takes shots downfield.

That sounds an awful lot like the offense Sullivan just left in the Meadowlands.

“I hired Mike Sullivan in Jacksonville as a quality control coach,’’ Coughlin said. “When we came here (2004), Sully actually had something else going on, but he wanted to be here with us. He has been outstanding. We appreciate everything he’s done with us and wish him well in his new assignment.’‘

Teacher and pupil will cross paths later this year when the Bucs visit the Giants.

 

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