National Football Post reporter Jason Cole joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss NFL and Patriots news, including the team’s reported interest in former Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Cole reported earlier this week that Schiano was getting advised not to take a position with the Patriots under his friend, Bill Belichick.
“He’s got some agents and other coaches and people saying, ‘Look, if you go there, where are you going to get back on the head coach track? Because what credit are you going to get if the Patriots are good? Was it your genius that turned around the Patriots linebacking corps?’ That’s the problem that you have at this point in time with going to work for Belichick.
“Now, if he’s comfortable and he’s saying, ‘Look, I want to take a step back for a few years, maybe be an assistant for a little while, learn under Bill and then I’ll branch off and get a college job,’ yeah. But I think that most people are getting the feeling that Schiano wants to be a head coach sooner than later. And a lot of people basically told him, ‘Why don’t you just take the year off? You’re getting paid. Go learn about the NFL, look around at some college jobs. Go figure out the things that didn’t work when you were in Tampa.’
“But he’s doing what coaches normally do, which is they feel compelled, they can’t get out of the game, they have to be back in it. They get that jones, that itch to coach, they take a job.”
Added Cole: “That’s what other people are saying, they advised him not to do it. ‘¦ Other people advised him to sit out a year, and he’s doing it over their advice. It’s an interesting decision. And for a guy who presumably wants to be a head coach, how’s he going to play this out?”
Looking at it from the Patriots’ angle, Cole said Schiano could help, especially if he’s willing to stand up to Belichick.
“Belichick likes him a lot and I think he respects him and he likes his discipline and some of the ideas,” Cole said. “Certainly Greg did a great job at Rutgers in building that program up. So, there’s a lot to like about Greg Schiano. Certainly he’s not the first guy who was a good head coach who didn’t do so well in his first turn around the NFL — Bill Belichick comes to mind, came back, got another job, fixed some things, got a quarterback, and then all of a sudden some things worked out. So, there’s a possibility for that.
“My only concern with bringing in [Michael] Lombardi and bringing in Schiano is I just hope that they’re guys who are willing to stand in there and say to Bill, ‘That’s not such a good idea. That doesn’t really work.’ Because the thing you worry about, particularly as coaches get a little bit older — and I don’t think Belichick is like this, I think he’s smart enough to realize you have to have contrarians on your staff and people who will question what you do.
“But that’s always a danger, and I saw Don Shula go through it [with the Dolphins in the early 1990s], which is he brought too many guys who he knew through for life, they were too comfortable with each other, and they didn’t stand up and say, ‘That’s not going to work,’ or, ‘That’s not a good idea.’ ”
The big NFL story this week has been the league considering a rule banning the use of racial slurs on the field. Cole said the only way the league can make this work is by having a strict no-tolerance policy, even when players use the N-word without bad intent.
“I get that point [that many African-Americans feel they can use the N-word amongst themselves], but I also say, yeah, but you’re just telling me that it’s only OK for black people to use this, so you’re basically segregating the language,” Cole said. “The other part of it is, you’re trying to differentiate when it’s supposed to be comfortable versus when it’s supposed to be angry and it’s a slur. That’s really hard to decipher. It’s like trying to decipher when some people are deadpan sarcastic and when they’re serious. It’s up to interpretation.”
Added Cole: “Or you get the other use where you get a real lunkhead, loud idiot like Richie Incognito, who starts throwing it around because he sees how comfortable all his friends who are black are using it. And then all of a sudden it’s like, OK, Richie, you can use it because it’s all right for you. It gets all twisted.
“The bottom line is, at least how I grew up, is it’s a dreadfully painful, hurtful word. That was what I was taught. Not just by white people but by black people. And that’s what I taught my kids. Let’s have a nice open discussion about it. Policing it? Yeah, it’s hard. But I think we’re getting to a point where there’s some issues that we’ve really got to talk about culturally about the use of this word.”
Cole predicts that if referees start throwing flags, slurs won’t be thrown around during games, although it will take longer to clean up the locker room.
“I think that you can enforce it on the field, as long as the officials are going to be strict,” Cole said. “If they strictly enforce it, it will disappear in a matter of a few weeks. And it will be done with. Because people will watch their language.”
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