While some in the media have speculated that the Lovie Smith hire had been in the works for a few months – or even longer – prior to the firing of Greg Schiano last Monday, according to a report by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Smith may not have even been the Glazers first choice and actually explored the possibility of bringing Jon Gruden back as head coach.
The report also stated that Gruden wasn’t the only big name the Glazers targeted.
“Tampa Bay ownership pursued a reunion with former Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden, according to league sources, making a run at him prior to their eventual hiring of former Bears coach Lovie Smith. Furthermore, according to league sources, the Bucs sent word to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher about their interest in him back in November, but were quickly informed Cowher was more than happy working as an analyst for CBS.“
La Canfora also wrote that former head coach Tony Dungy could eventually be part of the organization at some point.
“The Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers has been reaching back to some former employees following the firing of coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, and, some believe, they may ultimately approach former coach Tony Dungy about an upper-management position once his son concludes his college career at Oregon. Smith is a former assistant of Dungy’s in Tampa, and the idea of reconnecting with their salad days seems to be resonating with the ownership group.“
While some of the Bucs fan base still question the Glazers commitment to the organization, if any part of this report is true, then that question has clearly been answered.
The Glazer family wants to win – and win big.
The Glazers are on the hook for $9 million dollars still owed to Greg Schiano and now have approximately $20 million committed to Smith on his new deal. Add in the amount of money they have spent on free agents like Vincent Jackson ($55.5 million), Carl Nicks ($47.5) and Darrelle Revis ($96 million) and can anyone say with any conviction that the Glazers don’t want to put a winning product on the field?
And it also appears the Glazers may be taking a page out of Lightning owner Jeffery Vinik’s playbook (who spent $40 million of his own money to upgrade the Times Forum) and are going to spend millions out of their own pocket for upgrades to Raymond James Stadium’s scoreboards.
In a report by the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday, the Tampa Sports Authority has been ready to upgrade the video boards at the Stadium that are woefully behind the times as far as today’s technology standards for some time now.
In the report there is an indication that the Glazers want to take it a step further.
“The Sports Authority requested and received bids early last year for new video boards. Sometime thereafter, the Bucs asked the authority to hold off on making a decision until the team has an opportunity to review the options.
The team may want to go bigger and fancier on the scoreboards, and early indications are that the Bucs owners may be willing to pick up the cost difference if they opt to go that route, said one Sports Authority member.
“The Buccaneers want to make Raymond James a state-of-the-art facility, similar to what it was when it opened in 1998,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who serves on the Sports Authority. “Candidly, our scoreboard is archaic. I believe the Bucs want to make it something beyond just another scoreboard.”
It is clear the Glazers have heard the voices of the fans and had they kept Greg Schiano they knew they were facing a mountain of epic proportions in selling tickets, luxury suites and gaining corporate support.
A willingness to even consider bringing Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher to the Buccaneers shows the desire by ownership to bring a winning product to Tampa Bay, if in fact the report is accurate.
Fans can question the decision making of the Glazers, but it is getting harder and harder for even the most vocal critics and cynics to say they don’t want to see the Buccaneers back on the national stage in a big way and are committed financially to seeing it happen.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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