- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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But the last question Reiss asked me brought up a point that’s worthy of a post here. Reiss asked for my thoughts on the close relationship between New England coach Bill Belichick and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano.
The following is my answer to Reiss:
“It's pretty fascinating to watch. Coming into the NFL, Schiano talked about how much he respected Belichick and viewed him as his mentor. Turns out, that wasn't just lip service. The admiration seems to run both ways, with Belichick bringing in so many former Rutgers players. I know some of Tampa Bay's coaches were scheduled to meet with New England's staff this week. Supposedly, the purpose was to plan out joint practices during the preseason.
“But, given the relationship of the two head coaches, you have to wonder if this meeting also is a bit of 'think tank.' The AFC East and NFC South teams play each other this year. Belichick isn't going to give Schiano a blueprint of how to beat the Patriots. But it would help Belichick if Schiano and the Bucs can give the Jets, Dolphins and Bills a loss. And it would help Schiano if Belichick and the Patriots can knock off the Falcons, Saints and Panthers.’’
I then played a little quid pro quo and asked Reiss for his thoughts on the relationship between Belichick and Schiano.
“The Belichick-Schiano dynamic reminds me a little bit of Belichick's previous connection with Florida coach Urban Meyer,’’ Reiss said. “Over the years, Belichick has had a few known allies -- Meyer, Nick Saban etc. -- that are 'go-to' guys for him and whose opinions and trust trump most everything else. Schiano is definitely in that category.
“My opinion is that part of it is that Belichick's son, Steven, played for Schiano at Rutgers, which obviously hits close to home, and so Belichick got a real up-close view of how things were done at Rutgers. What he saw was pretty much reflective of how he tries to run his own program. Belichick has said as much, most recently noting that the team's three Rutgers draft picks are probably as ready for the NFL as any prospect in the draft.
“I'm sure there is more to it than that, and in the end, it comes down to trust. I'm not sure Belichick would have traded for Aqib Talib last year if Schiano wasn't on the other end of the trade, giving him information that he felt was genuine and accurate. Ditto for this year's trade for running back LeGarrette Blount. I'm also surprised that the teams are probably going to hold joint practices this preseason (mid-August) because they will be playing a game that counts about one month later. I think that also speaks to how strongly Belichick feels about Schiano.’’