We may never know whether Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor declined the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or whether he knew the Bucs were selecting another candidate.
What we do know is that after meeting with the Bucs this week, Lazor released a statement Friday evening that said he will return for a third season on Mike London’s Cavaliers staff.
This shortly after ESPN’s Rachel Nichols reported that New York Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan was interviewing for the Bucs position. Indeed, moments after Lazor released his statement, Tampa Bay announced Sullivan's hiring.
Lazor was attractive to new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano for at least two reasons: He worked seven years in the NFL and comes recommended by Super Bowl coaches such as Dan Reeves, Joe Gibbs and Mike Holmgren; he’s been an effective coordinator at Virginia.
Absent an elite quarterback, he’s helped the Cavaliers set a school record for passing yards (265.5 yards per game in 2010) and contend for the ACC’s Coastal Division (5-3 conference record in 2011).
Lazor’s pro-style offense has showcased players such as running backs Keith Payne and Perry Jones, receiver Kris Burd and guard Austin Pasztor. And with the likes of Jones, fellow tailbacks Kevin Parks and Clifton Richardson, tackle Morgan Moses and quarterback Michael Rocco, Virginia’s offense should thrive in 2012.
With Lazor back, the nine assistants London hired prior to his debut season in 2010 remain intact. Such stability can prove invaluable, as Virginia Tech has shown under Frank Beamer.
“I appreciate Coach London recently allowing me the chance to discuss a unique opportunity with an NFL team,” Lazor said in his statement. “I think all of us on his staff appreciate the comments he made the other day about professional growth and development. He truly cares about the people that work with him.
“In my two years in Charlottesville I have grown to appreciate Coach London, the university and the things he is doing with our football program. We are all very privileged to work at such a fine university and to coach a really outstanding group of young men. Yes, we’ve made some progress, but we have even higher goals we want to achieve, and I’m excited that I will be here to be a part of that ongoing process.”
London also released a statement: “I was very happy when Bill told me he was still going to be a member of our coaching staff. He has done a wonderful job with the development of our team, and I know he believes we can make even more improvement this year. I’m happy he will be here to help us continue to build something special at Virginia.”
Be there at least through next season. In fact, as the Washington Post’s Steve Yanda reported, Lazor last month signed a two-year contract extension that carries a 6.6-percent pay raise, to $453,000.
Less than a month later, Lazor interviewed with Tampa Bay. That shows how little contracts mean and how drawn Lazor is to the NFL.
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