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Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Even with — perhaps especially with —Jon Gruden set to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor Monday night, Tampa Bay’s Great Sports Debate hasn’t abated. Who deserves more credit for the biggest moment in Tampa Bay sports history — the Bucs’ Super Bowl XXXVII title — Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? The Times’ Bucs coverage team weighs in:

Both deserve praise, Gruden more

Greg Auman, @gregauman: The two coaches can certainly share in ownership of the high point in the Bucs’ 42-season history. If there’s a slight edge — we’re talking 60-40 maybe — I’d give it to Gruden, just because the final execution of winning the big game is a huge challenge. Dungy absolutely set the table with sustained success and building a confidence in core players to expect greatness, but Gruden closed it out, in the 2002 season, the playoff run and especially on that day in San Diego. Congrats to both, just the same.

‘I tell you what, man’

Tom Jones, @tomwjones: I love Tony Dungy. Who doesn’t? And if I’m picking someone to have dinner with, I’m picking Dungy. But if I’m picking someone to coach the Bucs to a Super Bowl, you know who I’m picking? Gruden. Why? Because the Bucs actually picked Gruden (over Dungy) to coach in 2002 and what happened? The Bucs won the Super Bowl. Don’t know what more evidence you need than that.

Dungy says its Gruden

Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: All I know is that I asked Tony Dungy this question recently and he said while Jon was gracious to mention the team he left him upon winning the Super Bowl, the credit goes to Gruden. Yes, Dungy build one of the best defenses in NFL history and the Bucs rode it. But the defense was good enough to win it all for a few years. It was Gruden who revamped the offense, adding Joe Jurevicius, Keenan McCardell and Michael Pittman and held that side accountable. And he also challenged the defense to be vetted and get nine defensive touchdowns. They did just that.

Pride cometh before the lion

Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: Tony Dungy made the Bucs matter. Jon Gruden made them world champions. Where are we eating? Dungy and Gruden made history together, even though they didn’t do it together. Tiebreak: Gruden held up the Lombardi Trophy. Winner, winner, Chucky dinner.

Without Dungy’s D, Gruden doesn’t win

Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: Gruden led a good enough offense, but Dungy groomed an all-time great defense. You could even argue it was the best. We forget the Bucs scored only about a point more per game in 2002 than they did in 2001. It was the defense that dominated the regular season and then the Super Bowl. It allowed 12.3 points per game! No team has done that since. Roster turnover? Please. The cornerstones — Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp — were in place. Gruden never had an offense finish above 18th in points scored and never won another playoff game.

Google Trey Junkin

Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: I’ll be accused of copping out, but every time I address this question, I hear the old school song There’s No Me Without You, I see Tom Cruise saying, "You complete me," and a vision of the yin and yang symbol pops into my head. Without Dungy changing the culture and establishing the defensive foundation, Gruden wouldn’t have had enough to take the Bucs to the next level. Without Gruden infusing the offense with new talent and greater accountability, the Bucs never complete the journey even though Dungy had taken them down the path. If you really want to know who deserves the most credit, look up the name Trey Junkin. Trust me, he’s the reason.

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