Schiano surrounds himself with people he trusts -- including Butch Davis in the front office
Bucs coach Greg Schiano is an organized, detailed man, some even say, a micro-manager who concerns himself with every facet of a football program.
That's not a criticism because it was a strength of Schiano's that enabled him to build Rutgers into a Big East contender.
It's not a surprise, then, why he would hire at least a handful of assistant coaches from his staff with the Scarlet Knights. They know what he expects, how he works and prepares.
But Schiano didn't stop with the coaching staff. He wanted a trusted advisor in the front office as well, and that's precisely why Butch Davis is working at One Bucs Place.
"I think also the other part of it which I think Greg is doing a great job is surrounding himself with guys that he knows,'' Davis said. "I think that that’s a big thing.''
There's been a lot of talk about Davis' $2.7-million settlement he has with the University of North Carolina which prohibits him from taking another coaching job. But it's pretty obvious when you listen to Davis that, at 60, he's more interested in a front office position at this point in his career.
Davis' title is special assistant to the head coach. But in the football operation of an NFL, there is the coaching/support staff (trainers, strength coach, etc.) and the front office, which includes general manager Mark Dominik, director of player personnel Dennis Hickey, coordinator of pro personnel Shelton Quarles and the scouting staff. Davis isn't going to instruct players on the grass or run meetings. Regardless of his title, he's another layer to the front office.
By contrast, senior offensive assistant Jimmy Raye, who was a candidate for the Chicago Bears' GM job, is a member of the coaching staff and will work with players.
Schiano and Dominik share the same vision for building the Bucs. The last three years, it was all about building through the draft. But it's obvious Schiano received a commitment from the Bucs and the Glazer family that the team will invest in free agents. To that end, the Bucs have approximately $67-million of salary cap space, which might be the most in the NFL.
It's also clear that Davis will have a big input in personnel decisions. He will start by sitting in on interviews of potential draft picks at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next week. He plans to evaluate the current roster to determine the talent level and project players potential. He also plans to use his resources in the coaching community to compile background on potential veteran free agents.
“That is something that I look forward to is taking a look at the team,'' Davis said. "Taking a look at where they are in the growth. I know it is a very young football team. There is an awful lot of very, very young some very talented players. So I am anxious to take a look at them and see where they are as far as the talent—the physical abilities. Also, take a look at where their potential upside might be. How far can this guy’s career rise over the next year or two and adapt to the system both schematically, offensively, defensively, and special teams that Greg is going to implement and try to help him there.”
As for helping with free agency, Davis said, "“I will be there to help any way that I can. Try to have knowledge of guys that I have either coached or played against or coached against. The other thing hopefully is that when you have coached for a long time you know coaches in other places. Other NFL teams and other colleges that you can reach out (to) because a lot of times getting information is extremely important. A lot of times it keeps you from making a bad decision. Hopefully sometimes it will help you make a good decision.”
Good decisions. That's what Schiano wants and what he trusts Davis can help the Bucs make. Davis has been part of several transitions from college to the NFL and back again. He was part of Jimmy Johnson's Maimi Hurricanes staff that went to Dallas and won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys. He made his share of mistakes as the head coach and general manager of the Cleveland Browns.
"The small pieces of advice that I have shared with Greg is just be yourself,” Davis said. “He is already a terrific guy and a great football coach. So don’t go thinking that you got to be somebody different than who you are. All the things that Greg believes in trust and loyalty and surround yourself with good people. You can’t have enough good people in any organization. The better the coaching staff that you have, the better people that you got around you, the better chance you got for success. And clearly define exactly what is going to be the culture of the environment. What is the vision of the team? What do you want this organization to look like two, three, four years down the line? And he will do that.
"Hopefully I can help be a sounding board for him. Look over his shoulder at times and say here are some things that I did that were the wrong things to do. Maybe learn from some of my mistakes and hopefully maybe some of the things that I did right I can help.
How long will Davis be part of the Bucs organization? He'll be receiving deferred payments from the Tar Heels through 2015.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Davis said. “The one thing — you know I am committed to try and help this team win a Super Bowl as quick and as fast as possible. Not putting any pressure on Greg (Schiano) or any of that kind of stuff because every job is a process. There are certain things that you got to accomplish as you build your team. You know as we have talked about it you never know this could be ten years, who knows?”