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Ruskell joins Falcons, but Bucs hold on to assistants

Tim Ruskell is reunited with Rich McKay; Rod Marinelli is again denied permission to interview with another team.

Published January 16, 2004

TAMPA - Out with the old, locked in with the new.

That sums up the Bucs' current regime, which continues to open its doors for fleeing front office personnel while slamming them on the fingers of its assistant coaches.

The latest refugee is player personnel director Tim Ruskell, who was reunited in Atlanta with Rich McKay Thursday as Falcons assistant general manager.

"I thought there would be some sadness after 17 years," Ruskell said. "But it's a relief."

That is not an emotion likely to be felt by any member of the Bucs coaching staff.

On Thursday, the Bears requested permission to interview Rod Marinelli for their defensive coordinator's post. But for the third time this month, the Bucs are not allowing their defensive line coach a chance to advance his career with another team.

That decision is in keeping with the recent stance by Bucs coach Jon Gruden, who has twice denied Marinelli a chance to interview with the Jets and Wednesday denied linebackers coach Joe Barry an opportunity to become Cardinals defensive coordinator. Both have one year left on their contracts.

What makes the Bears situation different for Marinelli is that it would've been a chance to work under new coach Lovie Smith, perhaps his closest confidant while the two worked on Tony Dungy's coaching staff.

By the end of work Thursday, Marinelli had not been informed by the team of the Bears' request to interview him.

"They're going to do everything can to maintain continuity in the coaching staff," Ruskell said.

The Bucs, however, are all too willing to open their door to a Bears assistant.

Chicago offensive coordinator John Shoop will interview for the quarterbacks coach position today. Shoop, 34, spent five seasons with the Bears, the past three as their embattled offensive coordinator. The Bears won 17 of their first 21 under his play calling.

Shoop is a candidate to replace Stan Parrish, whose contract was not renewed this week.

Meanwhile, Ruskell couldn't contain his excitement about leaving the Bucs to join the Falcons.

Passed over for the GM job in Tampa Bay and with the Dolphins, Ruskell's new duties will include presiding over the draft.

"It's a bittersweet moment," Ruskell said. "Seventeen years is a long time and I had great memories from the Buccaneers. I look at the people I've met that will be lifetime friends, like Tony Dungy, Rod Marinelli, Ruston Webster. I remember the good and the bad.

"I told the Glazers from the start if I did not get the general manager's job in Tampa, I want a fresh start, I want to move on. They wanted me to hear (general manager) Bruce Allen out and have an open mind. I did that, it didn't change my M.O."

The Bucs are attempting to retain much of the scouting department, but a player personnel director could be hired shortly.

Thought to be among the candidates is Raiders player personnel director Mike Lombardi. But Lombardi is serving in the same capacity Allen did with the Raiders and may not be available.

John Schneider, the Packers assistant to the general manager, also has drawn interest. Schneider's agent is Bob Lamont, who also represents Gruden.

In the meantime, Gruden's father, Jim, has been spending more time in the Bucs personnel department. But Gruden said he is only a consultant and not in line for a front office position.

SIMON REPLACES SAPP IN PRO BOWL: Eagles defensive tackle Corey Simon was added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster in place of the injured Warren Sapp.

Simon, a former FSU standout, was Philadelphia's first-round pick in the 2000 draft.

BROOKS A FINALIST: Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks is a finalist for the Bart Starr Award, given for outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. Other finalists are the Giants' Mike Barrow, the Bengals' Jon Kitna and the Eagles' Troy Vincent.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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