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The Tampa Bay Bucs cleaned house today, firing head coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik, and that should make Patriots fans sad.

Not because of any affinity for Schiano, mind you. The former Rutgers coach reportedly alienated...just about everyone in the Bucaneers franchise during his two year tenure in Tampa. This year alone had rumors of a rigged vote to strip Josh Freeman of his captaincy, a massive MRSA infection in the locker room, and a pathetic 0-8 start. Schiano's firing was a matter of "when", not "if".

However, this news affects the Patriots due to Schiano's relationship with Bill Belichick. The friendship between the two had resulted in a pipeline from Tampa to New England, with the Pats acquiring talented players like Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount from the Bucs in exchange for next to nothing.

To be fair to Schiano, the Talib trade didn't appear to be so one-sided at the time. Talib had well-deserved reputation for finding trouble in Tampa, one that stemmed back from his college days at Kansas, and was considered a longshot to re-sign in Tampa as a free agent at the end of the year. The Bucs did manage to get something back (specifically a fourth round pick that turned into DE William Gholston) for a player set to leave with no compensation, although the Patriots are obviously happy with the results of the trade in hindsight.

The LeGarrette Blount trade looked strange at the time and looks worse from a Bucs perspective now. Schiano clearly wanted nothing to do with Blount, who had fallen out of favor in Tampa after the emergence of Doug Martin, but it seems like he could have gotten more for a former 1,000 yard rusher than Jeff Demps and a seventh round pick.

Demps, a former standout in both football and track at Florida, missed the beginning of the 2013 season to focus on track. Once he returned, he had little impact, playing in only two games before suffering a groin injury that required season-ending surgery.

Blount more than doubled Demps 2013 total of 128 all purpose yards on Sunday alone, with a monstrous 334 yard day to carry the Patriots to a win over Buffalo, clinching a playoff bye week in the process.

The Schiano pipeline to New England also includes the long list of players drafted from Rutgers in recent years, almost all of whom were recruited by Schiano. That connection has paid big dividends in the secondary, where Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon have been steady contributors.

If Bill O'Brien does indeed make the jump from Penn State to the NFL, Schiano is rumored to be a top candidate to be his successor. Perhaps the next few years will see an influx of Penn State players to the Patriots roster.

Ned Brady 12/30/2013 01:19:00 PM Edit
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