Lots of good reaction in the mailbag to Tuesday’s column in which I gave my opinion that Tony Dungy is the best coach in the history of the NFC South.
Craig in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Tony Dungy never coached in the NFC south, right? Jon Gruden was the coach of the Bucs in 2002, when the division got its start.
Pat Yasinskas: Absolutely correct. Not sure if you’re suggesting that should make Dungy ineligible, but I think I made it very clear throughout the process that anyone who ever coached for one of the four franchises that now make up the NFC South was eligible. In other words, guys like Jim Mora and John McKay also were eligible.
Steven in Ontario, Calif., writes: I am a Bucs fan and I read your blog before anything else about the Bucs. I respect your knowledge, but without Manning and what he did with the Colts, Dungy would be with Jim Mora on your list. I am sure Gruden is a pain (for the media), but he got the Bucs to the "holy land". Football is about winning and the best play.
Pat Yasinskas: Let me say this: Gruden was not “a pain’’ to cover. In fact, he was great for media purposes. He was colorful as could be, always saying very good quotes and never afraid to be controversial. Dungy, on the other hand, could be very dry and boring for those purposes. I went with Dungy over Gruden (and several other coaches over Gruden) for the reasons I stated in my column.
Mark in Honolulu writes: I have no issues with your selections of best coaches, but think you may have left out one important criteria. One task of management, in all businesses, is the development of those who work for you. Head Coaches are tasked with the development of assistant coaches. How many assistants did the head coach develop into a peer?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, I think that would only support Dungy’s case. Among the guys he had as assistants were Herm Edwards, Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli, Monte Kiffin, Mike Tomlin and Jim Caldwell. That’s a pretty strong list.
Curtis in Cordova, Tenn. writes: I just finished your blog about the best coach in the NFC South. While your reasoning is strong, I feel there is one thing you left out. Yes, both Sean Payton and Dungy have won a Super Bowl, but you fail to look at the quality of the opponent. Payton and the Saints defeated the Colts and Peyton Manning coming off of a near-perfect season and only one year removed from being led by Dungy. Dungy and the Colts on the other hand defeated Rex Grossman and the Bears. Three years later, Grossman can barely hold a back-up job after imploding in the Super Bowl and the Bears now are largely considered irrelevant. I doubt you'll find anyone that believes the Colts and Manning will be in the same position three years from now. So, are all Super Bowl wins equal?
Pat Yasinskas: Actually, Dungy’s Super Bowl with the Colts had nothing to do with my decision. Nothing Dungy did with the Colts had anything to do with my decision. I think I made it pretty clear I was only looking at what the coach did while he was with an NFC South franchise. If I included other stops, guys like Mora and Dan Reeves would have been higher on the list and Mike Ditka would have made the list.