Who is Rich Bisaccia? Here’s what we know about Raiders’ interim head coach, Jon Gruden’s replacement
In the span of just a few hours on Monday night, Jon Gruden went from "Las Vegas Raiders head coach in hot water due to a racist comment in an email" to "former head coach who resigned due to racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay emails he sent over a seven-year span."
It’s a huge fall, but there’s a saying in the NFL: next man up. And the next man up for the Las Vegas Raiders is Rich Bisaccia, special teams coordinator and assistant head coach.
Team owner Mark Davis named Bisaccia as interim head coach shortly after Gruden resigned Monday evening, though he wasn’t the obvious choice for the job. He has never had a head coaching position, while Raiders coaches Tom Cable, Rod Marinelli and Gus Bradley have all been NFL head coaches in the past.
So who is Rich Bisaccia? Who is the man who will handle coaching the Raiders for (presumably) the rest of the season? Here’s what we know.
Bisaccia is a football lifer
Bisaccia, 61, has been coaching for 38 years in the NFL and at the collegiate level. A native of Yonkers, New York, he started for four years as a defensive back at Yankton College in South Dakota. He graduated in 1982, and after signing as a free agent with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL, began his coaching career with Wayne State College in 1983. He spent a year coaching defensive backs and special teams before switching to quarterbacks and wide receivers for the next four years.
Bisaccia then spent six years at South Carolina in several different roles, though he continued working with special teams throughout. His next stop was Clemson in 1994, and then Mississippi in 1999, which was his last collegiate coaching job.
From NCAA to NFL
After 19 years of collegiate coaching experience, Bisaccia made the jump to the NFL in 2002 when he took a job as special teams coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Gruden had just started as head coach. Special teams was a highlight during Bisaccia’s nine seasons with the Bucs, and played an important role in the Bucs’ first Super Bowl victory at the end of the 2002 season.
After spending 2011 and 2012 working under Norv Turner with the then-San Diego Chargers, Bisaccia took a job with the Dallas Cowboys as special teams coordinator. He turned around their kickoff returning, taking them from 29th ranked in 2012 to top five by 2013.
Bisaccia’s unflappable coaching style made a strong impression on at least one Cowboys player.
"He’s so up-front about everything, he’s going to be truthful with you and not really sugarcoat it much," Justin March-Lillard, who played for the Cowboys’ special teams in 2017, told USA Today. "You’re going to know he cares even if it’s not as happy as you might want it to be. You’re going to know he cares just by his approach to you as a man first. That’s the way he leads. He’s not afraid to take accountability for himself and he pushes all the guys in the room to hold ourselves accountable and compete at a high level."
In 2018, when the Raiders signed Gruden to a 10-year, $100 million contract to be their head coach, he brought on Bisaccia as special teams coordinator and assistant coach. Now, three years later, Gruden is out and Bisaccia is getting his first shot as an NFL head coach. He’s scheduled to speak to media Wednesday afternoon, and will make his head coaching debut on Sunday when the Raiders travel to Colorado to face the Denver Broncos.