Bruce Arians is stepping down as Buccaneers coach, standing in for an old friend who deserves a second chance

By walking away, Bruce Arians continues the conversation.

the super bowl-Winning coach resigns as head coach Tampa Bay Buccaneers so his longtime friend and highly qualified defense coordinator, Todd Bowles, can get his chance to lead a successful team.

“I wanted to make sure Todd Bowles had the best chance of success if I went away,” Arians said in a statement Wednesday night. “So many head coaches come into doomed situations and I didn’t want that for Todd.”

Arians have long been an ally of blacks and minorities. As a starting quarterback at Virginia Tech in the 1960s, he was the first white player to have a black roommate. He is an advocate for diversity in NFL coaching ranks, adding women to its staff, and three black coordinators on staff.

As any white NFL coach can, Arians has known the struggle and plight of the black football coach. That’s partly why I believe he made the unusual decision not to retire from coaching until March 30th.

Leaving now not only ensures Bowles gets the job, but a great job. So often NFL coaches become head coaches of bad teams. That’s probably why the position was open in the first place. As we know, black coaches rarely get head coaching jobs. The ones they do usually stink worse than the others that are available.

And if you’re a black former head coach like Bowles? Good luck on the second appearance. Only seven other black men have ever been the permanent head coaches of at least two NFL franchises in their careers.

Bowles’ first attempt at coaching was a failure. His New York Jets went 24-40 in his four years there, and they were marred by poor free agency decisions, poorer draft picks, and inconsistent quarterback play. I spoke to him in the 2020 season about how he wouldn’t just step in at the next opportunity just to be the head coach again.

“I think the situation has to be right and it goes from there. If the situation isn’t right… if it’s not a match, I’m not going to take it.” said Bowles then. “The first time probably because you really want to become a head coach and do good and save the world. But after going through it with experience and knowing that in order for you to be successful anywhere, the situations have to be right and obviously you bring that a lot to the table. But they also have to bring something to the table. And if it doesn’t fit, then it just doesn’t fit.

The move to install Bowles, the fourth black head coach in Buccaneers history, comes as the NFL continues its decades-long struggle with diversity in its head coaching ranks. Just this week, the league adjusted the Rooney Rule (again), requiring all teams to hire an assistant coach for the minority offense and establishing a panel of experts to make recommendations NFL team Owner. Meanwhile, Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the NFL will reportedly get two new plaintiffs in the coming days.

Arians’ decision to retire while promoting Bowles reminds me of what legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith did in 1997. He shocked the sports world when he stepped down just before the start of the season with a Final Four-ready team so he could ensure his longtime assistant, Bill Guthridge, finally got his chance. Arian has known Bowles since playing under him as a cornerback for Temple in the mid-1980s.

And Arians isn’t surrendering just any team. It’s one with Tom Brady back in search of an eighth Super Bowl title.

However, there are already conspiracy theories. For people who can’t subscribe to Occam’s razor, they’d rather believe a fairy tale that goes something like this: Brady returned to Tampa on the condition that Arians is no longer the head coach. The GOAT didn’t have a great relationship with the blunt head coach. Without making it obvious, Brady was planning a return from his clunky retirement, but only if the Bucs could Arians. And in a league that is a sieve for information, everything would be kept under wraps for almost a month.

Sureeee.

There is no babushka lady or umbrella man here. Instead, the answer here seems pretty simple.

A lifelong ally, approaching 70 years, wanted by a successful black coach and longtime friend to do the right thing.

Arian could have gone on top with his championship after the 2020 season but decided to give it a second try and ultimately came up short on the field. I would say that he still has the edge with this move.

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