Dungy: Coach’s responsibility for team extends to the trip home

USA TODAY Sports

This week, with the Jaguars playing at home, there won’t be a question regarding whether Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer will skip the flight back to Florida. His decision from 10 days ago to not return home with his team continues to make waves, however.

As noted last night, the players and staff didn’t know Meyer wouldn’t be on the plane. Appearing recently on Brother from Another, Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy explained how unusual it is for a head coach to not accompany his team home.

“I played football for probably 16 years, total,” Dungy said. “I coached for 28 years. I never went to a game where the head coach didn’t come back with my team, me and myself for 13 years as a head coach, 15 years as an assistant, 15 years playing when the head coach went to a game, when we returned the head coach came back with us. So that to me, I just don’t know how you do that and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to stay in Ohio.’ . . . That was the mistake to me. What happened in the bar or whatever, that’s secondary. You go back with your team. We finished by getting home and getting everybody — that’s your responsibility as the head coach to make sure everybody lands on that plane, safe, everybody gets back to the facility, then you do what you have to do.”

Coach Dungy made another great point on Sunday regarding the extent of the coach’s responsibility. What if something happens on the plane that requires the coach to get involved?

“You are responsible for those guys until the trip is over,” Dungy told PFT. “Someone could get sick on the plane. The plane might get rerouted and you have to land somewhere else. We had that happen where we had a snowstorm and we had to turn around and land back in the city we just left and spend the night. You never know.”

Or maybe it’s a fight or an argument among players. Or maybe a player and a coach get into an argument. Plenty of things can happen on the plane. And the ultimate captain of the ship will be nowhere to be seen or heard.

Meyer tapped out and, based on the fact that the players and staff didn’t know he was staying in Ohio, apparently didn’t make arrangements for someone else to be in charge. The question becomes whether the owner will end up putting someone else in charge before Meyer’s first season with the team comes to an end.