Mobile, AL. (Jan. 3)— While most eyes will be on the talented athletes and future NFL stars racing up and down the field at the 2013 Senior Bowl, the matchup on the sidelines will be worth watching, too. The senior showcase event will feature a coach who is no stranger to the Senior Bowl matching up with a rookie NFL head coach.
Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions staff will face Dennis Allen and the Oakland Raiders staff in the Senior Bowl later this month, it was announced today. Schwartz and his staff will lead the South squad in Mobile, while Allen and the Raiders’ staff will coach the North.
“The Senior Bowl is fortunate to have the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders as our coaching staffs this year,” said Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage. “Both organizations really wanted to be here and will do a great job of coaching both of our outstanding rosters.”
Schwartz, who has led the Lions the past four seasons, coached the North squad to a 31-13 victory in 2010. He said he embraces the chance to coach again at the Senior Bowl.
"I think there is some insight involved in getting to know those guys over a course of the week,” Schwartz said. “And it can confirm some of our scouts' evaluations that have already worked very long and hard into getting guys evaluated this fall season. It can also maybe give us a different perspective on some other guys. Maybe we get a little bit more time with some other guys."
Schwartz also coached at the Senior Bowl in 2006, as the defensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans.
This season, Schwartz’s Lions suffered a setback (4-12) after improving their record his first three seasons in the Motor City, culminating with the organization’s first playoff appearance in 12 years during the 2011 season.
Schwartz became the first Lions head coach since Buddy Parker (1951-53) to improve the team’s record in each of his first three seasons as head coach.
Schwartz, 46, brings a unique blend of coaching and player personnel experience to the Senior Bowl. Having spent the past 19 seasons in the NFL—16 years as a coach and three in player personnel— Schwartz worked his way up from an entry-level football operations position with the Cleveland Browns in 1993 to being named the Lions head coach on January 16, 2009.
“Jim Schwartz is a personal friend.” Savage said, “I know how important the Senior Bowl is in his eyes, while Dennis Allen is one of the up-and-coming young head coaches in the professional game.”
Allen, 40, made his NFL head coaching debut with the Raiders (4-12) this season. He has never coached in the Senior Bowl, even as an assistant. He is the NFL’s youngest head coach -- more than six months younger than Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin -- but has 17 years of combined coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels.
"It's a great opportunity for the Raiders,” Allen said of coaching the Senior Bowl. “It gives us a chance to get a solid evaluation on these players. We get a better feel on them because we see them in meetings, we work with them in practice, and we can determine whether their personality would fit well in our locker room. It's an opportunity to get an in-depth feel on a lot of those guys."
Six times during his 10 years as an NFL assistant, Allen’s team earned a playoff berth: 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Four of those trips to the postseason came after division championships: The NFC South with Atlanta in 2004 and New Orleans in both 2006 and 2009, and the AFC West with Denver in 2011, where he served as the defensive coordinator.
His resumé also includes football’s ultimate prize, a Super Bowl XLIV ring he earned by helping the Saints beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts to conclude the 2009 season.
This will mark the ninth time the Lions have coached in the Senior Bowl, going 1-6-1 in its previous eight games. The only victory was under Schwartz in 2010.
The Raiders have coached three previous times at the Senior Bowl, going 0-3. Lane Kiffin led Oakland in its last trip to Mobile, coaching the North in a 17-16 loss in 2008.
The 2013 Senior Bowl is scheduled for 3pm (CT) on Saturday, January 26th in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game and all practices will be televised by NFL Network.