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January 2, 2014 @ 1:17 pm
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Back To The Future: Bucs Officially Hire Smith As Head Coach

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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The Glazers revisited history with the Buccaneers' newest head coaching hire, bringing back former linebackers coach Lovie Smith. With nine seasons worth of experience as a head coach in Chicago, Smith brings a defensive mind and a steady calm to a franchise that has just finished a tumultuous 2013 season.
The Buccaneers took 26 days to hire Greg Schiano as the Buccaneers head coach in 2012 after firing Raheem Morris. This time around it took just four days to find Schiano's replacement, as the Glazers, the team's ownership group, got the coach they had targeted from the beginning.

The Buccaneers officially announced the hire on their team website Thursday afternoon.

"Today is an exciting day for the Buccaneer organization, and the entire Tampa Bay community, as we welcome back Lovie Smith," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer. “Lovie is an accomplished and very well respected head coach who has enjoyed success at every level of his 30-year career. We knew from the start of our search that he was the ideal man to lead this team into this new era of Buccaneer football.”

Smith and the team agreed to a five-year deal.  The Buccaneers’ new head coach will be formally introduced at a press conference at One Buccaneer place on Monday, Jan. 6, at 2:00 p.m. ET. The pr

Reports began floating on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon that the Glazers had already interviewed Smith, with some saying as earlier as last Monday, the same day Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were fired. Smith, who was out of coaching after being fired by Chicago after the 2012 season, could have been interviewed earlier than that in December if the Glazers had made up their minds that Schiano wasn't going to return.

Smith will bring former University of California head coach Jeff Tedford to Tampa Bay to become the team's offensive coordinator. Smith's good friend, Rod Marinelli, who has coached with Tampa Bay as the team's defensive line coach (1996-2005), been Detroit's head coach and worked with Smith in Chicago as the defensive coordinator, would become the Bucs defensive coordinator. Marinelli is currently serving as the defensive line coach in Dallas under defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who used to have that role in Tampa Bay from 1996-2008. Smith's backup option at defensive coordinator has reportedly been former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier if the Bucs can't get Marinelli out of Dallas.

The Glazers had an obvious familiarity with Smith from his days on former coach Tony Dungy’s staff. Smith served as linebackers coach in Tampa from 1996-2000 under Dungy, and then parlayed that into becoming the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2001. After three seasons in St. Louis, the Bears hired Smith to be the team’s head coach, where he served for nine seasons and complied a record of 88-64 as head coach, including an NFC Championship in 2006 before losing, ironically, to Dungy’s Colts in Super Bowl XLI.

Smith is expected to bring calmness to Tampa Bay after a tumultuous 2013 campaign, which was marred by the benching and release of starting quarterback Josh Freeman, a MRSA outbreak at One Buccaneer Place, a rash of injuries and a dreadful 0-8 start to the season under Schiano. Smith also beings an impressive resume that already has some Buccaneers players excited.

Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy tweeted on Wednesday night, “Lovie Smith. Grade A!! Gonna be fun!!! Wonder what else they have in store? Hmmm.”

Then followed it up with, “Love the excitement of everybody but DO NOT FORGET the only way things work is if we put in the WORK. Not gonna be easy has to be earned.”

Former Bucs also chimed in via Twitter on their happiness with the choice of Smith.

"So excited tonight @TBBuccaneers. Bucs got better tonight with Lovie Smith coming back as the new H/C. Words can't describe my excitement," former Bucs legendary linebacker and Smith pupil Derrick Brooks tweeted late Wednesday night.

Dungy tweeted his approval of the hire.

"Congratulations to the Bucs. I think they made a very good choice in hiring Lovie Smith. Now I'm excited about watching the Bucs next year!"

Smith has been compared to Dungy ever since he served under the Bucs' second all-time winningest coach for five seasons, and was to be hired to help return Tampa Bay to respectability after 11-21 over the previous two seasons under Schiano. The organization's reputation took a hit over the last year, which ended in a 4-12 mark and there was plenty of fan unrest.

On the surface, Smith faces a tough challenge, as the Buccaneers have had six losing seasons in their last 10 years, including the most recent, a dismal 4-12 finish in 2013. But as Schiano said on Monday, the next Bucs head coach will walk into a good situation.

Defensively, the Buccaneers finished 17th in overall team defense, which was an upgrade over the 29th-ranked unit in 2012. The defensive roster has a solid base of talent led by McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David, Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson. Add in promising young players like defensive tackle Akeem Spence, defensive tackle William Gholston and cornerback Johnthan Banks, and the nucleus for a Top 10 defense is already in place.

Tampa Bay's offense is where the biggest issues lie. Smith, Tedford and the coaching staff will need to determine quickly if Mike Glennon is the answer at quarterback. An upgrade of talent is also needed on the offensive line, regardless of who is behind center.

At age 31, wide receiver Vincent Jackson isn’t getting any younger, and Mike Williams is coming off hamstring surgery and missed the second half of the season in injured reserve. But nether possess game-changing speed, something the Bucs have been void of on offense since the days of Joey Galloway streaking down the field for former head coach Jon Gruden.

The good news for Smith is that Tampa Bay holds the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft this May, and can address one of the needs immediately. There is also the possibility of moving down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick that will be surrendered to New York for the Revis trade.

– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
Last modified on Thursday, 02 January 2014 15:48

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  • avatar

    While counterintuitive, this seems a risky hire, because we could waste another 5 yrs with the Bucs being improved but not good enough to compete with the elite, balanced, teams in the NFC. I have little interest being 9-7 and missing the playoffs or 10-6 and whiffing in the first weekend. Became sick enough of that under St. Dungy. As a Bears fan noted earlier, Lovie appears to understand little about offense, if he overemphasizes the D in drafting and FA at the expense of the O, we already know how that will work out - we'll be screwed.
  • avatar

    go bucs go-HE A GREAT HIRE GO BUCS
  • avatar

    I think the availability of Lovie Smith weighed heavily in the decision to fire Schiano. The Glazers know what they are getting in Lovie. The big question is can a team with middle of the road offense and a top 5 defense win like our former super bowl champions? That is the type of team we are likely to get. At least it will be an end to 4-12. Couple of things to consider that help us this year. With the coaching change we will get extra OTA and with the draft in May the new crew will get extra time to evaluate the talent. Whether or not they pick a QB at 7 or not, I think we will get the player we need the most that can help the team the most.
  • avatar

    The holidays are behind us--Happy New Year Bucs' fans--and I finally enjoyed a day off. I spent it immersed in Tampa Sports Talk Radio and every scrap of Bucs' news I could find. Twitter feed rained down, and every respected name of winning Bucs' football past came forward with praise for Lovie Smith. It was great. I love & respect the Dungy Coaching Tree. The most knowledgeable football guy I know is a Bears fan for life--so I get even more insight into Lovie's reputation as a coach. After everything I've heard, I keep getting the same message: Lovie the man, the ties, the history is a great hire in Tampa. He's a winner, he's respected, BUT, his football mind is rooted in older concepts. He's not forward thinking when it comes to offense. Not dynamic. As an NFL fan, I fear this. I fear 10 win seasons when it takes 11 to get in the playoffs. I fear the pedestrian pace of previous offenses, the predictability. The inability to go 80 yards, or put up 30 points. The short of the sticks pass on 3rd down. The Lovie hire doesn't alleviate those fears for me. Please, no more Buc ball. I love watching defense, but It's more fun to watch when you're ahead on the scoreboard.
  • avatar

    Now our team will play some professional football. Thank God the reign of that clown coach has ended. Now there will be no more articles defending that garbage he put on the field for 16 weeks. I do like Lovie Smith and obviously he has had his troubles with Offense but hopefully he's learned and has something exciting in store. This team needs to score points to make it out of the division.
  • avatar

    @Golf: I believe most Bucs fans agree with your assessment. Since Glennon hasn't shown the "it factor" yet, this year's year's draft must produce a very good QB to compete for 1st team. If a good rookie doesn't fall to the Bucs at #7 in the 1st round, I hope the Bucs will consider trading a 2nd or 3rd rounder (whichever they have) for Josh McCown, especially since the Bears have now extended Cutler's contract for a bunch of years. Lovie is certainly aware of him!
  • avatar

    Before you Lovie lovers jump off thE deep end please accept thE following from a now Buc season ticket holder formerly a Chicago Bear fan who suffered thru the Lovie Smith era in Chicago. Let me guarantee you the following:(1) thE players will love Lovie and the defense will improve significantly;(2) Do the following names mean anything to you: john Shoop, Mike Martz, Ron Turner, Mike Tice (all offensive coordinators under Lovie none of whom are currently employed in the NFL and do you realize that the individual (Jeff late of Cal) being talked about as the new offensive corrdinator has done nothing since Aaron Rodgers of many years ago including coached in the NFL). Lovie will produce 8-8, 9-7 10-6 seasons and therefore the Bucs will never during Lovie's tenure be able to draft a franchise quarterback. Therefore if you believe as I believe that Mike Glennon is not going to lead us to the promised land you better pray that someone other than Lovie understands the foregoing and will use this years number 7 pick to take a quarterback ( be it Johnny Football, Blake or Derrick) otherwise forget the Super Bowl in this offensive oriented league. Watch out what you wish for.
  • avatar

    What about Dungy going from Tampa to Indy? He couldn't produce an offense here but had created one of the best defenses of all time. Then when he goes to Indy he took their offense to another level and had trouble creating a defense, but the year he won the Super Bowl he at least had a respectable to go with a great offense. Coaches have to adapt to what players they have available. Lovie is respected by the players which is probably the most important aspect of getting the players to play as a team
  • avatar

    Lovieeeeeeeeeeeeee! Great hire that will bring back some much needed respect back to the franchise. With all the things that happened this year, we needed someone who would make this a desirable place to coach and play again. And I think getting the coordinators who are proven in the NFL and have been head coaches elsewhere before is a significant upgrade from what we have had on the sidelines over the past 5 years. After 6 losing seasons in the last 10, we needed someone who is proven winner and capable of taking a team to the Super Bowl. Lovie gives us all and to top it off, he wanted to be here. Tamppaaaaaaaa........
  • avatar

    Until the Glazers hand cuff him to that podium, I'm going to hold my breath. Turning pretty blue in the face... but we'll see what happens.
  • avatar

    Welcome home Lovie! Love the hire. Either Frazier or Marinelli would make an excellent DC. BTW, the Tampa defense was never the same when Marinelli left. Go Bucs!
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