Old pals Dirk Koetter, Andy Reid meet when Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit Kansas City Chiefs

Published Nov. 18, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is no longer a football team at San Francisco State, the Gators long ago having given up on the pricey sport in favor of investing in their other athletic programs.

Andy Reid and Dirk Koetter will have to settle for Arrowhead Stadium for a reunion Sunday.

The Chiefs coach and his Bucs counterpart were on Vic Rowen's staff in 1985, trying to learn the ropes after their playing days. They reunited a few years later at Texas-El Paso and remained joined at the hip at Missouri before their paths finally began to diverge.

Reid headed for the NFL. Koetter stuck around the college game before making the leap.

"He's one of the finest football coaches I've ever been around," Reid said. "We were little scrub buckets when we started off together, and we ended here, in Missouri, at the University of Missouri. I definitely saw him as a college coach, and then I figured if he got in the NFL, he would be the head coach there, too. He's very, very good."

Koetter will have to be at his best to figure out a way to outsmart Reid on Sunday.

The Chiefs (7-2) have ripped off five straight wins to climb into a tie atop the AFC West, not to mention join the pursuit of the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Their defense has been dominant, their offense has done enough to get by, and the wins keep piling up.

"Andy is one of the best, if not the best coach, I've ever been around," Koetter said. "His attention to detail, his ability to teach, the way he motivates guys — it was a great blessing for me to be able to work with him like I did."

Reid's path after leaving Missouri took him to a successful run as an assistant in Green Bay, then his 14-year run leading Philadelphia. But he seemed to be beaten down those last few years with the Eagles, and it took a move to Kansas City for him to feel rejuvenated.

Koetter has had his share of bumps, too. He was a rising star after turning Boise State into a powerhouse but fell into years of mediocrity leading Arizona State. Stints as offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, Atlanta and Tampa Bay earned him the Bucs' top job.

So far, Koetter also appears to be rejuvenated, too.

He has Tampa Bay off to an encouraging 4-5 record after a dominant win over the Bears, and the franchise is eyeing its first winning season since 2010.

"I'm sure they think they can win the rest of their games," Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley said.

But they can't do that without beating Kansas City. Here are some of the keys to the game:

UNHEALTHY CHIEFS: Defensive tackle Jaye Howard has been dealing with a hip flexor, cornerback Marcus Peters with a hip pointer, linebacker Derrick Johnson with hamstring spasms, defensive tackle Dontari Poe with a sore knee, and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with a groin strain. It was unclear whether any would be inactive Sunday.

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SPEAKING OF HEALTH: Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston could make his season debut against the Bucs. The four-time Pro Bowl selection had surgery to repair his left ACL in February and was added to the roster last week, though he remained inactive for the game at Carolina.

"He was feeling pretty good last week," Reid said. "We'll just have to see."

EYES ON PETERS: Quarterbacks have avoided Peters after he piled up five interceptions in the first five games. He hasn't had a pick in the past four, but a strip of Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin last week set up Kansas City's winning field goal.