Tony Dungy sounded like a proud papa upon hearing the news that Scott Milanovich had been hired as coach of the Toronto Argonauts.
Their relationship goes that far back: Milanovich’s only four seasons in the NFL happened to coincide with Dungy’s first four years as head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“He was a backup quarterback for me,” said Dungy, the legendary Super Bowl-winning coach turned NBC analyst, in a telephone interview Thursday. “Scott was one of those classic overachievers. He prepared hard. He helped the other quarterbacks. We had Trent Dilfer and Steve Walsh ahead of him. He really helped those guys. He worked at his craft.
“I’m excited to hear he got that job. I didn’t know he was up for a head coaching job. I hadn’t heard that. I think it’s great for Scott. He has all the qualities you’d want in a head coach.”
What Dungy liked best about Milanovich was how seriously he prepared for games, especially running the opponent’s offence in most practices throughout his NFL career.
“He wasn’t just very prepared, he was very smart,” said Dungy. “He would run through 16 different NFL offences throughout our season and he was able to process that — and he would be able to help our team by determining trends.
“I didn’t think of him as a future coach at first, but (offensive coach) Clyde Christensen did. He said, this guy’s going to be a good coach. Most (starting) quarterbacks, like Peyton Manning, are too much perfectionists to be coaches. But the backups, they learn to think like coaches. Scott was like that.”
When asked if he had a message to pass on to the new Argo boss, Dungy said: “Just offer him my congratulations. I knew he would be successful. I’m very proud of him and happy for him.”