The Las Vegas Raiders continued to make additions to their coaching staff this week, with one noteworthy surprise. The Silver and Black are bringing on former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce to coach his old position.
Josh McDaniels and the Raiders’ brass have wasted no time in jettisoning the coaching staff from last season. Among those additions is Pierce. Fans will recall his playing days with the New York Giants, where he was a Pro Bowler and a member of one of their Super Bowl squads.
Following his retirement from the professional ranks, Pierce has had coaching stints at Long Beach Poly and Arizona State. He was most recently the co-defensive coordinator alongside Marvis Lewis, of Cincinnati Bengals fame, at the latter. Last season, Pirce was the sole defensive play-caller and will now find himself back on NFL fields. However, he leaves Arizona State in the middle of an inquiry by the NCAA. Interestingly enough, Pierce is the fifth assistant from Arizona State to leave the college program since the NCAA’s investigation began.
As recently reported by the New York Post, “In June, the NCAA investigation into the Sun Devils’ alleged recruiting violations surfaced. Among other possible infractions, the team is alleged to have hosted recruits on campus during an NCAA-mandated COVID dead period. The investigation includes screenshots, pictures, receipts, and emails from an anonymous source that are now in the possession of the NCAA.”
The tampering allegations amid the COVID-19 pandemic are quite serious. Apparently, there is video evidence from an anonymous source implicating the program in several violations. Prohibited campus visits during the pandemic chief among them. According to the article, Pierce played a large role in these violations and apparently encouraged other assistants to follow suit under the auspices of head coach Herm Edwards.
What can Antonio Pierce bring to the Raiders?
Whether there’ll be any ramifications to follow Pierce as he returns to the NFL from this investigation is unknown. Nevertheless, while at Arizona State, Pierce led the Sun Devils to some impressive marks in his sole season as the lone defensive coordinator. Highest among those accomplishments was coaching a defense that was ranked second in the Pac-12 as far as points allowed per game, with 20.9 in 2021.
— Phil Jones (@PhilJonesNFL) February 15, 2022
Even if you’re not impressed with collegiate coaching accomplishments, Pierce has plenty of NFL pedigree to make his hiring noteworthy. In a position that the Raiders might end up revamping, Pierce will play a key role in getting the linebacker corps up to par in 2022. It certainly appears that Raider Nation is excited about this hiring, and rightfully so. The pieces are quickly coming together for the Raiders. They’ve put together an impressive staff ahead of the offseason’s mad dash of free agency and the NFL draft.
*Top Photo: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images