The coaching staffs for the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl both will come out of the AFC.
The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals have been selected as the two staffs for this year’s game, officials announced today. Buffalo will coach the South squad, while Cincinnati will head up the North team. The Senior Bowl is scheduled for 4 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 29 in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The game and all practices will be televised live by NFL Network.
This will be the first time since 1984 and the fourth time overall that the Bills have been selected to coach the event. Buffalo has gone 1-1-1 in its three previous trips to Mobile – coaching the North squad all three times. Head coach Lou Saban and his staff coached in back-to-back years in 1970 and 1971, while Kay Stephenson was at the helm for the 1984 game.
Under first-year coach Chan Gailey, the Bills went 4-12 this season and own the third overall pick in April’s draft. Gailey will be coaching his first Senior Bowl, but he is no stranger to the game. He served as an assistant on Dan Reeves’ staff in Denver when the Broncos coached in the 1986 and 1989 Senior Bowls.
“It is an opportunity that you look forward to because of the opportunity to work hands-on with some of the top players in the nation,” Gailey said of the Senior Bowl. “Anytime you can do that, you get a much better read on a guy – whether he can learn and retain, his work habit and his leadership. All of those intangibles that you can’t get off of film or in interviews.”
The Bills have 22 Senior Bowl alums on their roster, including Mobile native and former Auburn standout Antonio Coleman. Gailey also has Alabama ties, having served as the head coach at Samford University in Birmingham and Troy State University. While at Troy State, he led the Trojans to the 1984 Division II National Championship.
“I was very fortunate to start my career at Troy State University, that was my first full time job,” Gailey said. “It’s great to be back in the state of Alabama and I am looking forward to seeing all my good southern buddies down there.”
This marks the third time in seven years that the Cincinnati Bengals have been to the Senior Bowl. Marvin Lewis’ staff coached the North team in the 2004 and 2009 games, coming up on the losing end both times. The Bengals own the fourth pick in the upcoming draft after posting a 4-12 mark this season. Lewis, who recently signed an extension in Cincinnati making him the longest-tenured coach in franchise history, is 60-69-1 in eight seasons at the helm of the Bengals.
“I have always felt that if we’re not going to be coaching in the NFL playoffs, we should go to work and get to know some of the new prospects as well as we can,” Lewis said. “Coaching the Senior Bowl has been extremely helpful the two times we’ve had an opportunity to do it, and I’ve had a couple other opportunities to do it on other staffs. I think it’s always a plus. It gives you a good insight into the players – to their temperament, how they learn, what kind of guys they are and how they compete.”
Lewis and his staff used the 2009 Senior Bowl to their advantage, selecting four players off of that year’s roster in the NFL draft. Cincinnati went on to win the AFC North title that season and Lewis earned NFL Coach of the Year honors in the process. The Bengals have 28 former Senior Bowl players on their roster, including Senior Bowl Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.
“We’re excited to once again have this opportunity. This game always has the best players from around the country. We will get a lot out of working directly with them in practice and in the game,” Lewis added.