George Yarno, who played eight years on the Bucs' offensive line, is now back to help coach that fast-developing squad
George Yarno, who was born and raised in Spokane Washington, became a star defensive lineman at Washington State and has spent the last five years coaching at his alma mater, is leaving home to join the NFL.
But Yarno is also coming home, in a way.
On Friday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they have hired Yarno to serve as the team's assistant offensive line coach. The long-time college assistant played 11 seasons in the NFL, eight with the Buccaneers. Yarno first entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Tampa Bay in 1979.
After finalizing contract extensions for Head Coach Jon Gruden and Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin, the Bucs have made Yarno their first announced new hire of the 2008 offseason. Yarno will work with Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Bill Muir to help mold one of the youngest and most promising starting lines in the league.
Though he played defense as a Cougar, Yarno converted to the offensive side of the ball upon joining the Buccaneers and made the roster in his rookie campaign, proving to be a versatile performer who could play any position on the line. His first stint with the team lasted through the 1983 season, after which he signed with the Denver Gold of the upstart USFL.
Yarno played the 1984 and '85 spring seasons with the Gold, then re-signed with the Buccaneers prior to their 1985 campaign. His second run in Tampa Bay included the majority of his 63 career starts as a Buccaneer, as he was the team's primary left tackle in 1985 and the starter at left guard in 1986-87. In all, Yarno appeared in 109 games for the Buccaneers before finishing his NFL career with Atlanta (1988), Houston (1989) and Green Bay (1990).
Even if he had not returned for a second stint with the Buccaneers, Yarno secured his place in the annals of Buccaneer trivia in the last game of the 1983 season. During a 23-20 loss at Detroit, the Bucs quickly became disenchanted with recently-signed kicker Dave Warnke, who missed a short field goal try and an extra point attempt in the game. After the Buccaneers scored a late touchdown to make it 23-19, then-Head Coach John McKay kept Warnke on the bench and sent Yarno out to try the extra point. Using an old-fashioned straight-ahead kicking style, Yarno knocked the kick through and was mobbed by his fellow offensive linemen.
Yarno, who started at left guard for the Buccaneers in 1980, was a member of the franchise's first three playoff teams, in 1979, 1981 and 1982. He appeared in all four postseason contests over that span, including the 1979 NFC Championship Game, and started at left guard in the 1982 first-round game against Dallas.
At the conclusion of his playing career, Yarno moved right into the coaching ranks at his alma mater. His first stop at WSU lasted four seasons (1991-94), as he tutored the offensive line under Head Coach Mike Price. In 1995, Yarno joined the staff at Idaho as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, retaining that position for three seasons.
After stops at Houston (1998-99 under Kim Helton) and Arizona State (2000 under Bruce Snyder), Yarno joined Nick Saban's staff at LSU as the offensive line coach. He spent two seasons (2001-02) with the Tigers and then headed back to the Northwest in 2003 to coach the Washington State offensive line again.
Among the NFL-bound players Yarno coached during his college days were Seattle's Robbie Tobeck and San Diego's Nick Mihlhauser.
By luring Yarno back across the country, the Buccaneers have continued to build on a recent theme of re-hiring valued alumni. Among the other former players who are now on staff with the team are linebacker Shelton Quarles, now a pro scout; quarterback Doug Williams, now a personnel executive; running back Reggie Cobb, now a college scout; safety Eric Vance, now the director of player development; Dave Moore, now a radio analyst; and safety Dwayne Stukes, now a coaches assistant.