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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

What to make of Rutgers assistants joining the Bucs

5

February

It's been rumored for more than a week. Now it's becoming clearer that Bucs coach Greg Schiano is indeed bringing several of his former Rutgers assistants to play key roles on the Tampa Bay coaching staff.

It's already been reported that former Rutgers receivers coach P.J. Fleck is headed here to coach Tampa Bay's receivers. And we continue to hear that other Rutgers assistants, including offensive and defensive coordinators Frank Cignetti and Bob Fraser, respectively, will soon follow. Others rumored include defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley and strength coach Jay Butler.

This has many fans expressing concern and dismay about the experience level of the coaching staff Schiano is assembling, and those concerns are justified.

But is it too soon to draw conclusions? I say yes.

For starters, we do not know the planned roles of the aforementioned coaches. I anticipate they'll be position coaches, at most. You should not assume the Rutgers coordinators are going to work at the coordinator level with the Bucs. It's a mighty big jump from, say, defensive coordinator at Rutgers, facing Pitt and Syracuse, to defensive coordinator in the NFC South, where you'll face the likes of Drew Brees twice a season.

You heard the rumors about Butch Davis assuming the role of defensive coordinator. That rumor continues to circulate. Until someone else is named, it's reasonable to assume he's the frontrunner. It's less clear what the Bucs have in mind for their offensive coordinator post, but chances are they'll look to someone with extensive NFL experience.

The Bucs have to get these coordinator hires right. I don't think we need to rehash what happened in 2009, when they hired Jeff Jagodzinski (offense) and Jim Bates (defense), only to fire both before the end of the season. Those mistakes dealt a substantial blow to the Bucs' development that season, forcing players to adopt different styles on the fly after coaching changes were made on both sides of the ball.

But back to the original subject. Let's not jump to conclusions here. Yes, it's more than fair to wonder whether stocking the staff with former Rutgers assistants is prudent. But, again, let's get some clarity on what their roles will be. Let's also first learn whether they will be complemented by other coaches with NFL experience.

In any case, stay tuned. We should know more in the coming days.

[Last modified: Sunday, February 5, 2012 2:08pm]

    

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