The East-West Shrine Game is the nation's oldest college all-star football game, and on Tuesday, Arizona Cardinals' defensive line coach Brentson Buckner was officially named one of two head coaches for this year's contest.
Buckner will lead the East squad against Minnesota Vikings' assistant coach George Edwards' West team on January 21 in St. Petersburg, Florida for the 92nd rendition of the East-West Shrine Game.
A fourth-year assistant with the Cardinals, Buckner helped coach a unit that played an integral role in the Cardinals finishing first in the NFL in sacks just a year after the team finished 20th in the category.
The East-West Shrine Game supports Shriners' Hospitals for Children and has annually hosted some of the top draft-eligible talent in the country. NFL legends including Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, John Elway, Brett Favre and Walter Payton all competed in the Shrine Game and some of football's most recognizable coaches including Don Shula, Dick Vermeil and Paul "Bear" Bryant have coached in the contest.
More than 90 players from last year's East-West Shrine Game earned NFL contracts while at least 70 of those made an NFL roster last fall.
Buckner was nominated by the Arizona Cardinals for the head coaching role and selected by a panel including NFL Operations staff, Shrine Game leadership and a few members from the NFL's General Manager Advisory Committee for the position. Now that Buckner has been selected as a head coach, he is free to fill up a 12-man staff with other assistant coaches nominated by NFL teams.
The Shrine Game announcement of Buckner's role comes a day after his Clemson Tigers won the College Football Playoff National Championship. Buckner played at Clemson from 1990-1993 before becoming a second round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Buckner played in the NFL between 1994 and 2005 before becoming a high school coach in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.
After ascending through the coaching ranks and serving as a training camp intern for the Pittsburgh Steelers between 2010 and 2012, Buckner earned his first assistant coaching job in the NFL on Bruce Arians' staff in Arizona in 2013.