If character references are a high priority, Rich Bisaccia will be a factor before South Carolina’s search for a new head football coach is finished.
Bisaccia is a veteran NFL assistant without a lot of name recognition in this coaching search, but he’s got plenty of high-profile supporters ready to back him for the job regardless.
“This job is on the top of his list,” Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told The State. “He told me about this when we hired him. He said, ‘Coach, I am all in. I am 1,000 percent in, but if that job ever comes open, that’s one that I am really interested in.’ He has a real connection to the place. In so many ways, that’s his home. This is a very hard call to make for me because he is such an asset to our team. He does a fantastic job for us. If it all comes together for him to go down there, it’s going to hurt the Dallas Cowboys, but I love him to death.”
Bisaccia, 55, has been the Cowboys assistant head coach and special teams coordinator since 2013. He has worked in the NFL the last 14 seasons, but his coaching career began in earnest at South Carolina in 1988, when he left a job at Wayne State College to take a graduate assistant job with the Gamecocks. He spent the next six years at South Carolina, coaching the running backs and special teams in 1992 and 1993. He then spent five years coaching running backs and special teams at Clemson.
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“It’s been no secret that his dream job has been to be a head coach, and he has wanted it to be in college,” said 15-year NFL safety John Lynch, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Bisaccia coached there. “I know this opportunity – because he has some roots in South Carolina – is one that would be very intriguing. It wouldn’t be the huge name getting the job, but I think anybody who has been around him has no doubt what kind of job he would do as a representative of the university, as a football coach and as a recruiter.”
Bisaccia, who has a home in North Myrtle Beach, has interviewed for two head coaching jobs in the NFL, with Washington and Cleveland.
“I’ve always had an ambition to be a head coach, and to even be considered at the University of South Carolina would be an honor, and we’ll see where it goes from there,” Bisaccia told The State.
He declined further comment, but the people who know him were much less reticent.
“I think he’s a high-character, high-integrity man,” said NFL Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who played for Bisaccia in Tampa Bay. “A family man and definitely understands from a father figure what young men are going through and will go through. Knowing his ties to South Carolina, it’s hard for me to fathom why this job would not be the right job for him.”
None of the players and coaches who spoke to The State about Bisaccia believe he would have any trouble recruiting despite more than a decade away from college football.
“He’s a great teacher, and I think the foundation of it is he’s a great person,” Garrett said. “I can’t imagine being a mom or dad and having him come into your living room and talk about the virtues of the University of South Carolina and what kind of program he would establish there. I think he would be a fantastic recruiter, and I think he’d create an outstanding environment for his kids to come in and thrive in so many different areas in their life.”
Brooks and former Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson both would encourage their sons to consider playing college football for Bisaccia, they said. Brooks son Decalon is a linebacker prospect in the Class of 2017.
“The football part of it speaks for itself,” Johnson said. “He’s a winner and he can coach any position, defense, offense, obviously special teams, but the greatest compliment I can give him is I would want my son to play for him. He has great vision on people, great vision on structure, organization and how to communicate with people. I think the most important part of football… He’s not a gimmicky guy. He’s about people. Whoever he becomes a head coach for, it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Rich Bisaccia, 55
Where Is He? Dallas Cowboys (assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, 2013-present)
Where’s He Been? San Diego Chargers (assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, 2012; special teams coordinators 2011), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, 2009-2010; assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and running backs coach, 2008; special teams coordinator, 2002-2007), Ole Miss (assistant head coach, running backs coach and special teams coordinator 2001-2002, running backs coach 1999), Clemson (running backs coach and special teams coordinator, 1994-1998), South Carolina (running backs coach, special teams coordinator, 1992-1993, volunteer assistant, 1989-1991, graduate assistant 1988)
Where’d He Play? Yankton College in Yankton, S.D. (defensive back)
What’s He Make? NFL teams don’t disclose their assistant coach’s salaries