By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
Published October 23, 2005
Tony Dungy is impressed by the names.
The number is pretty spiffy, too. But if Dungy collects his 100th NFL coaching victory today - a pretty safe bet for his undefeated Colts against the winless Texans - he will be struck most by the elite list of names he joins as the 35th man to accomplish the feat.
"You can look at the list of people who are on there, and there is nobody who you don't really admire or realize that, "Hey, this guy is really good,' " Dungy told reporters in Indianapolis.
"You realize how difficult it is to get 100 wins in this day and age, with the instant gratification and where you have a couple of years to make things happen. It puts you in really special company."
No victory was harder than the first.
Dungy's first head-coaching job came in 1996 with the downtrodden Bucs, who proceeded to lose their first five games. Badly. Green Bay 34-3. Detroit 21-6. Four-point losses to Denver and Seattle were followed by another thumping at the hands of Detroit 27-0.
Finally, Tampa Bay beat Minnesota 24-13.
"After the first one, it wasn't too bad," Dungy said. "It took a long time to get that first one. After three weeks, it seemed like every week was 10 or 12 days."
From that slow start, Dungy made quick gains.
Since 1999, no one has more regular-season victories than Dungy, who is 70-32 since the start of that season. His teams have made six straight playoff appearances. He has been to the AFC and NFC Championship Games. He also is the only NFL coach to defeat all 32 teams. He will reach 100 wins, including playoffs, in his 10th season.
Dungy was 56-46 in five seasons with the Bucs, a team built around defense. He is 43-17 with the Colts, a team built around offense.
He is quick to credit his mentors.
Playing for the Steelers' Chuck Noll, whom Dungy frequently quotes to his players, he learned the importance of fundamentals. An assistant to former 49ers coach Bill Walsh, he learned belief in a system. From former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer, he learned attention to detail. And from former Vikings coach Denny Green he learned the value of team chemistry.
Dungy is the sum.
"It will be a milestone for me, personally," said Dungy, who will become the 11th active coach on the list. "It means I've been in good organizations, been around good players and we've been pretty consistent."