Assistant coach Marmie 'shocked' at Lovie Smith's firing
Even in the context of today's win-now NFL, former Bucs assistant Larry Marmie said he was "shocked" last week when he found out that Lovie Smith would be fired and not brought back for a third season in Tampa Bay.
"I was shocked," said Marmie, who coached the Bucs' nickel defensive backs for the last two seasons as part of Smith's staff. "There's a lot of different ways to look at it, but I personally thought there had been significant improvement in some areas, looking at the way some of the young players on offense played. I know there were ups and downs on the defensive side ... I just thought that we'd probably be there another year, to see how much the improvement continued to happen."
Marmie, who is 73 and has known Smith since 1977, when he was defensive coordinator at Tulsa and Smith was a linebacker, has spent most of the last 20 years in the NFL, with stops with five different teams, including time as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals and Rams. He said he understands the urgency that today's coaches face, but still thought the Bucs had shown enough to have Smith back in 2016.
"I've learned that in this league and even in the college ranks, you probably shouldn't be surprised by anything that happens," Marmie said. "I understand that. I know that everything's kind of in a win-now situation. I can't speak for all the coaches, but I feel that we let Lovie down from a coaching standpoint. I'm speaking for myself, but I feel like whatever my role was, I let him down. We go back a long way."
Most of Smith's defensive staff won't be back -- Marmie's contract was for two years, and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd and safeties coach Mikal Smith (Lovie's son) won't have their contracts renewed. Two others -- defensive line coach Joe Cullen and linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson -- will be evaluated by the next coach once he's hired, and may or may not be kept on staff.
Marmie said after losing to Carolina 38-10 in the season finale to finish the year 6-10, Bucs coaches went about last week very much as usual, with end-of-season exit interviews with players and personnel meetings with Smith leading into offseason decisions about free agency and the draft.
"It wasn't any different, in terms of how we finished the season, than most places I've been," Marmie said. "We had our players in Monday, did the exit stuff, Lovie met with them, talked about the future plans. All the position coaches met with their guys, talked about the offseason and what their plans were. ... We met on Tuesday, proceeding with personnel evaluations. It seemed to be business as usual. Ownership certainly has the right to do what they see as best for the football team as they see it."