New Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith is wasting no time in putting together an experienced coach staff with the Bucs, and according to a report, Tony Sparano is set to join Smith as the Bucs offensive line coach.
Hoping to upgrade a unit that underperformed and disappointed in 2013, new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has reportedly hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano to coach Tampa Bay’s offensive line.
Sparano was the Raiders offensive line and assistant head coach last season, and while Dennis Allen will be back as Oakland’s head coach next season, assistant coaches were only offered one-year contracts extensions, and according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, Sparano balked at the offer and instead decided to join Smith’s staff in Tampa.
Prior to joining the Raiders in 2013, Sparano was the offensive coordinator for the Jets for one season and before that, spent four seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. In his first season in Miami, Sparano led the Dolphins to an 11–5 record and the AFC East division title. The 10-win turnaround tied an NFL record and Sparano finished one vote behind first-year head Atlanta’s Mike Smith for the AP Coach of the Year.
If the report is accurate Sparano joins former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier (defensive coordinator), Hardy Nickerson (linebackers) and Jeff Tedford (offensive coordinator) as the three confirmed assistant coaches.
Smith was hired just three days after the firing of Greg Schiano giving the franchise a jump on the Browns, Vikings, Titans, Redskins and Lions who are still in the process of hiring their new head coaches. The ability to hire Smith early is giving the former Bears head coach a long list of assistant coaches to interview and choose from.
Alex Marvez first reported that the Bucs hired Joe Cullen to serve as the team’s defensive line coach. Cullen coached Cleveland’s defensive line last year after spending three years (2009-12) in Jacksonville serving in the same capacity. Cullen served as the Detroit Lions defensive line coach from 2006-08 under Rod Marinelli, Smith’s close friend.
Jeff Rapp of SportsRappUp.com, which covers Ohio State football, reported that Tim Spencer would be reuniting with Smith in Tampa Bay as the Buccaneers’ running backs coach. Spencer, a Buckeyes alum, and Smith coached together at Ohio State in 1995, and Spencer served on Smith’s staff as the running backs coach from 2004-12. Spencer was able to produce 1,000-yard seasons from Thomas Jones (2005-06) and Matt Forte (2008, 2010, 2012) in Chicago, but did not have much success in coaching Cedric Benson, the Bears’ first-round pick in 2005, to greatness. Benson didn’t rush for more than 674 yards in three seasons in Chicago.
On Tuesday Footballscoop.com reported that Andrew Hayes-Stoker would join Smith to coach the Bucs' receivers. Hayes-Stoker was an assistant wide receivers coach with the Bears under Smith in Chicago from 2010-12. Hayes-Stoker, played running back for TCU behind LaDainian Tomlinson.
A report by Marvez said that Smith would add Mississippi State offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo who coached Cal's quarterbacks under Tedford for two seasons. Arroyo, along with Tedford, would be in charge of determining if Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon is the future.
Kevin O’Dea, whom Smith knew from his days of coaching in Tampa as an offensive and defensive assistant from 1996-2001, is thought to be Smith’s first choice to head up special teams in Tampa Bay. O’Dea is currently in Kansas City where he has served as the Chiefs special teams coach. The 53-year old O’Dea has worked for Smith in Chicago during two stints as an assistant special teams coach from 2006-07, and also from 2011-12.– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
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