Five years ago, Zac Taylor was coaching for Cincinnati. The college. Today, he is head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and will face former L.A. Rams boss Sean McVay in Super Bowl LVI on February 13th. But McVay and the Rams aren’t the only reunion on deck for the 38-year-old Taylor.
Back in 2016, Taylor was the offensive coordinator for one year at the University of Cincinnati under head coach Tommy Tuberville. When Tuberville resigned at the end of the season, that left Taylor without a job, but only temporarily as he was picked up by McVay to be an assistant wide receivers coach in his first season with the Rams.
Taylor was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2018, then hired by the Cincinnati Bengals to be the head coach in 2019. That decision for Tuberville to resign with a 4-8 record set off a number of important football timelines over the next five years.
The Bearcats hired Luke Fickell, a longtime Ohio State assistant coach under a number of notable head coaches with the Buckeyes. Fickell repeated the 4-8 record in 2017, but was named AAC Coach of the Year in 2018 after leading Cincinnati to an 11-2 record. Fickell then went 11-3, 9-1, and most recently 13-1 as the Bearcats crashed the College Football Playoffs in 2021 behind quarterback Desmond Ridder and cornerback Sauce Gardner.
It was during that 11-2 season in 2018 that Fickell got help on defense from a player who started play for the Bearcats in 2015, one year before Taylor was hired to coach the offense. He spent four seasons at Cincinnati, totaled 7.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks as a senior in 2018, and then went undrafted in 2019 before signing a contract with the Los Angeles Rams. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad, and appeared in one game in 2020, but was called up in Week 9 of this season and has played on defense every game since. In less than two weeks, he will be reunited with Taylor for the first time since they were both with the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2016 ...
Rams defensive lineman and special teamer Marquise Copeland.
Though he’s not even a household name for most Rams fans, Copeland played in 108 defensive snaps over the last nine games of the regular season. He played in 15 snaps in the wild card round against the Cardinals, and 10 over the last two games, but is always active and at least playing a few snaps on defense and special teams. Copeland won’t be one of the key storylines for Super Bowl LVI and he didn’t play directly for Taylor at Cincinnati, but the odds of one coach and one player coming from that one 4-8 AAC team five years ago both reaching the Super Bowl have to be at least a little low.
Marquise Copeland went up against Zac Taylor’s offense all the time in practices during 2016. Now he’s doing it for the right to be an NFL champion.