IRVING, Texas -- With Lovie Smith set to become the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to reports, it is only natural to see Rod Marinelli linked to the former Chicago Bears head coach.
Marinelli spent four years on Smith’s staff with the Bears and was the coordinator from 2010-12. They coached together in Tampa Bay. He became the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line coach in part because of his loyalty to Smith, who was fired.
There is nothing more important than loyalty to Marinelli.
But if he wants to return to Tampa Bay -- he was a Buccanneers assistant from 1996-2005 -- and reunite with Smith, then he would need the Cowboys’ OK, according to multiple sources.
Marinelli is under contract to the Cowboys in 2014. The Cowboys could let him go if they choose, but they have blocked Joe DeCamillis and Tony Sparano in recent years from taking jobs with different teams while under contract. It is possible they could come up with some sort of compensation package to let Marinelli go.
Teams are only required to allow assistant coaches to interview for head-coaching vacancies.
But the feeling is the Cowboys do not want to lose Marinelli. He was forced to work with 19 different defensive linemen in 2013 because of injuries and poor play. The Cowboys' higher-ups liked what he brought to that group and the defense in particular.
With Monte Kiffin’s status up in the air, Marinelli could be a candidate to be the Cowboys’ coordinator if they went that route.
But there is no questioning Marinelli’s feelings for Smith.
“I'll say this, he was one of my very best friends,” Marinelli said during the season. “I went there because of him, not for any other reason. We had a long tenure together and I believe in him. I've started this thing off about my beliefs, being old fashioned or whatever, I have a strong belief in what he believes in and I liked it. For me, it's got to be that or I struggle. I never want to not do it with all my heart. For me, that was Lovie's defense.”