"When you get into playing you strive for one thing, that's to be a Super Bowl champion. When you get into coaching, you strive to be a Super Bowl-winning head coach. That's what my goal is."
On Tuesday, January 11, 2011, Ron Rivera was named the fourth head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
He is the second Latino to be an NFL head coach, the first being former Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks coach Tom Flores.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said Rivera’s background as a player helped him get the job. Richardson is the only owner that was also a player in the NFL.
It took a while. Rivera interviewed for eight head coaching jobs in six years. He said that experience helped when the Panthers called.
"I'm excited for Ron," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "He has aspired to be an NFL head coach and I expect him to do an outstanding job."
Rivera was a linebacker on the 1985 Chicago Bears, who won Super Bowl XX.
Rivera was the defensive coordinator for the 2006 Chicago Bears, who won the National Football Conference championship and competed in Super Bowl XLI.
He was the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, with San Diego ranking tops in the NFL in total defense and pass defense this season, prior to being named coach of the Panthers.
Rivera learned under coaches who favor aggressive defensive philosophies, such as Buddy Ryan, Jim Johnson and Lovie Smith. He used to utilize the 4-3 defensive scheme but adopted a 3-4 defense in San Diego.
At his Carolina Panthers press conference, Rivera said he plans to use the “attacking style” 4-3 defense to match the talent of the Panthers along with elements of the 3-4 scheme.
Rivera will get help from GM Marty Hurney in filling out his staff. Chargers tight end coach Rob Chudzinski and Marc Trestman have been mentioned as possibilities for the offensive coordinator job.
In general, Rivera liked the Panthers roster. He liked the offensive line, running backs, wide receivers and “tight end by committee.”
He said he wanted to meet Steve Smith soon and he was impressed by rookie wide receivers David Gettis and Brandon LaFell.
Rivera said figuring out the quarterback situation is a top priority.
Rivera sounded noncommittal about quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
"Look forward to meeting him and getting to work," Clausen wrote on Twitter.
It’s an understatement to say that Rivera has his work cut out. He was no-nonsense and businesslike at his press conference.
Rivera inherits a 2-14 team that consistently showed inexperience, questionable personnel decisions and questionable talent.
It led to a sloppy end of John Fox's nine-year run in which he clashed with management over the team’s direction.
Rivera reportedly received a four-year deal with no option year. ESPN reported it's worth $11.2 million, far less than Fox's last deal that paid him more than $6 million this season.
Rivera talked of playing an aggressive defense and making a franchise that's never had consecutive winning seasons consistently good.