When Bill Parcells was hiring his first coaching staff for the Cowboys in 2003, he gave a shot to a coaching unknown named Tony Sparano. Made him the tight ends coach.
Parcells didn't hire Sparano because he blew him away in the interview or because of his glittering resume. Actually, he gave him the job without ever having met him. That's because Parcells trusted the glowing endorsement of Tom Coughlin.
"I spoke with Tom about Tony," Parcells told ESPNNewYork.com Thursday. "That's how I got together with Tony. I hired him on Tom's recommendation, which I would do."
So there you have it: The man entrusted by Rex Ryan to galvanize the Jets' offense, and to fix Mark Sanchez, got his start in the Parcells coaching fraternity because of another fraternity member, Coughlin. So, in some small way, the Giants' coach is reponsible for the Jets' new offensive coordinator.
Coughlin gave Sparano a thumb's up because he spent a year (2002) on his staff with the Jaguars. He was Coughlin's tight ends coach. With the Cowboys, Sparano coached the tight ends, the offensive line and called plays in 2006 -- his only season of NFL play-calling experience.
Parcells called it "a joint venture" that season, and that wasn't a knock on Sparano. Parcells always liked to stay involved.
"He did good for us," said Parcells, who became the Dolphins VP in 2008 and hired Sparano as his coach. "I was always impressed with him. His work ethic. He's a very loyal guy. He's a really loyal, good person."
Sparano is known as a tough guy from New Haven, Conn., not afraid to get into a player's face if he makes a mistake. He's used to dealing with big egos. In Dallas, he had Terrell Owens. In Miami, Brandon Marshall. That should prepare him for the Jets' locker room -- specifically, Santonio Holmes.
"He has own way of doing things," Parcells said. "He’s not fearful. This guy is not looking for trouble. He goes by what he sees. He's not overbearing. He picks his spots."
Parcells didn't want to comment on Sparano's fit with the Jets, but he did say this about his football philosophy: "He wants to be sound on protection. He wants to protect the quarterback. That's very important. That will be an emphasis there, and that's a good thing. Quarterbacks take comfort in that and become efficient because of that."
On Thursday, the Jets interviewed another member of the Parcells fraternity, Todd Haley, for a position on the offensive staff. The Parcells coaching tree is growing in Florham Park.