For a high school football coach, returning to one's alma mater as the varsity head coach is a rare opportunity. Plant City High's Todd Long has been presented with that opportunity…twice.
Long was the head coach of the Plant City Raiders from 1994-2000 before leaving to pursue his masters degree in educational leadership. Two years later, after earning his degree and seeking to return to the coaching ranks, Long, still a teacher at Plant City High, discovered his former position open again and applied for the job. The school's administrators were more than happy to have Coach Long back, and that decision, predictably, has been rewarded.
On Wednesday at One Buccaneer Place, Long was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' "Coach of the Week."
At a ceremony on the practice field, Coach Long was presented with a framed "Coach of the Week" certificate, signed by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, General Manager Rich McKay and Coach Gruden. He also received a football autographed from Gruden and a Buccaneers hat from the team.
"I'm just kind of overwhelmed," said Coach Long upon receiving the award.
In addition to the certificate, hat and ball, Coach Long will also receive a $1,000 donation to his Raiders football program and had the added bonus of watching the Buccaneers morning practice on Wednesday.
"First of all, you see a lot of similarities," said Coach Long, who led his team to an undefeated regular season in 1998. "You see that you run a practice the same way these guys do it and it makes you feel good about that. It's also impressive to watch how they snap around and how they're very organized."
If you know a coach that you feel is deserving of being the Buccaneers "Coach of the Week," please a href=click here and submit his or her name, school, county and reason he or she should be selected.
Several factors are taken into account when selecting the Buccaneers Coach of the Week recipient, including the coach's impact on his or her team, school and community. The program is designed to recognize high school coaches who transform, through their hard work and dedication to young people, the best available athletes into high-potential football players.
All schools in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota are eligible regardless of size, league or division.