Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Full transcript: Schiano talks about Bucs' firing

30

December

Four hours after he was fired after two seasons as the Bucs' head coach, Greg Schiano met with the Tampa media to talk about his firing and the struggles in his 4-12 season. Here's a transcript of what Schiano had to say:

Opening statement: I want to take a chance to thank some people, first and foremost the Glazer family, for giving me the opportunity to be part of a great organization with the Buccaneers and to give me an opportunity to coach in the National Football League. It was quite an honor and I enjoyed every day of it. I want to thank Mark Dominik and the people in the front office. They were great to work with. Our coaching staff, I love our coaching staff. Tireless, came in every day and did everything they could to help us win, connect with players, sell the vision. I appreciate that. Our support staff, same thing, trainers, equipment people, just really great people.

Last but certainly not least, our players. We had a great group of players in that locker room. I really had a lot of faith and belief in them. They're good men. Now, we didn't get it done. I accept full responsibility for that. I'm the head coach. It didn't work. Having said that, I am really, really proud of our coaches and players, the way that they hung together, fought through adversity. Adversity, there was plenty of it, and never was there any finger-pointing, that stuff that goes along with it sometimes. I was proud of that, proud of the culture we developed here. In two years, really proud of that, the way these guys work, the way they approach the job, the way they approach being part of the community, this Tampa Bay community.

On the field, I think we're closer than people think. Defensively, until that last game, I thought we  were really solid. Offensively, we were devastated by injuries. I tried to stay clear of that, but when you look at it, half your offensive production from the year before was sidelined early on. It's a tough road. We really truly believe in playing complementary football, and it was hard to do that this year, I don't think that's anyone's fault. It's an unfortunate set of circumstances. Special teams were solid, but at the end of the day, we didn't get it done.

I want to thank one last group, and that's our fans. We've got passionate fans in the Tampa Bay area. Those fans supported us right to the end, and I do appreciate that. I want them to know that I appreciate the way they accepted me and my family into the Tampa Bay community. It's a special place. You all know that, living here. I do want to thank everybody I mentioned.

You guys have been fair. That's what we started out. When I first started out, we sat down and I said I understand everybody's got a job to do. I understand that. I think you guys have been really fair, and hopefully I've done the same with you. I'll answer anything I can.

Q: When you met with the players this morning, they came away with no indication that a change was going to take place. Did you not have any indication from the Glaziers that this was a possibility?

A: I did not know this morning when I met with the squad, no. You never know.  I"m not naive, either. It's the National Football League. ... I did not know. I met with the team the way I would. I woke up this morning fully focused on the future, leading the Buccaneers to championships. That's what I tried to express to our players. I was proud of the way they handled everything this year. We don't reflect a lot during the year. We move on to the 16 one-game seasons, move on to the next one-game season. In this team meeting, it was time to reflect, and I thanked them. Talked a little bit about where I thought we were headed, what we needed to do to get there, and then we proceeded on with our position -- each player sees their coach, fills out a detailed questionnaire I use for offseason evaluation. We went along our way, and then I was called to come down to their office. The rest is history.

Q: Record aside, with the circumstances went through, with the quarterback and MRSA, two years isn't a long amount of time for a coach. Was it a surprise that you didn't have more time?

A: I woke up this morning planning on being the head coach of the Bucs. That tells you I believed this was going to take some more time. I understand, when I got into this thing, I'm a big boy. I understood what I was walking into with the National Football League. A quarter of the coaches turn over every year. I think we had an opportunity to move this forward. I still think whoever takes over this job is taking over a good situation, a really good situation. If I was coming back next year, I'd be excited about the potential of this team and where we're headed, but I'm not.

Q: Do you want to be an NFL head coach again? Is that your goal?

A: You know, I woke up this morning planning on being the head coach of the Bucs. So I haven't had a lot of time to think about what I want to do. Literally, as I just mentioned, I was meeting with players and trying to get everything taken care of today with exit interviews, then wham. I'm a little bit kind of getting through today, then I'll take some time. I know this: I'll lean on my wife and my kids, my family and my faith to try to figure out where the next stop is for us.

Q: So there was no give and take about your vision for the future, you were told they were making a change?

A: We talk all the time, myself and Mark and ownership. Today was more of ... I understand. People own a football team. There's 32 owners and they make a decision, that's their decision. It's certainly their prerogative. I thank them for the opportunity they gave me. I dealt with mostly Joel and Bryan and Ed (Glazer), but knew all the family and they've been nothing but very supportive to me and my family since the day we got here. I thank them.

Q: Is there anything you'd do differently?

A: In our best games and our best seasons as a head coach, I've always had things I'd like to go back and change. You never call a perfect game, you never coach a perfect season. But I've always said and I think I've said it with you guys, at the time, with the facts you have, you make the decision you make. Those decisions are based on all your time and all your experience and all the support people you have around you to give you information and their opinions. The difference between being a leader and being an also-ran is when you're the leader, you have to pull the trigger. You have to make the decision. I love that part of being a head football coach, but you have to make the decision. Certainly, there are some decisions you want to go back and change.

Q: With that, would you go back and was it your decision to start the year with Josh Freeman at quarterback?

A: That whole thing, that whole situation was a very, very tough situation. I don't think there was any good way that was going to work unless it went the way (it went) ... It's a tough situation. We make decisions with the Buccaneers, we did make decisions collaboratively, as a group, especially big decisions. Myself, Mark Dominik, our ownership. We were very good and one part of the job I really enjoyed was the open conversations. Once a decision is made, just as I ask my coaches and players, once a decision is made, whether I agree, disagree or somewhere in between, once a decision is made as an organization, I'm going to execute that like it's my own decision. In essence, it really doesn't matter, because that's how I believe an organization should be run. That's what I demand of people who work for me, and that's what I do for people I work for.

Q: Were you stunned by the news? It sounds like you were shocked by it when you were told.

A: I think I'd be naive to be stunned. I mean, we ended up 4-12. Speculation all year long. Stunned isn't the word. I woke up this morning fully expecting to plow ahead. I was looking forward to get this week through and take a little short break and then get back at it. Somehow it's probably a little longer break than I was planning. It's OK. Things don't work out.

Q: What aspect of the job you did here are you most proud of?

A: I think really establishing a culture that's here now. I can't tell you the number of times, whether it's in a hotel when we're staying on the road, whether it's in this community, e-mails, phone calls, text messages that I get, just people so proud this is their team, these are their guys. This is what Buccaneer football is supposed to be. That was one of my goals, to return it to that kind of feel, that kind of culture. I believe it is, a big undertaking, one that is (unintelligible) very, very well. Again, I can't stress this enough. My responsibility is to win football games as a coach in the National Football League. We didn't win enough games.

Q: At the risk of sounding simplistic, what went wrong?

A: I didn't win enough games, that's what went wrong for me personally and our staff. In that, there's so much. Really, this season, I don't know if I've ever been a part for more that's gone wrong, from 17 guys on the IR to things that were mentioned already. Sometimes you can sit back and say 'This can't be real, right?' But it was. Being here today is real. Again, I go back to how proud I am of our guys, our coaches and players of just taking adversity head-on. It's not easy when people 'That's not good enough.' Believe me, everybody gets that. I get that. But these guys stuck together and worked their tails off. They just didn't get it done, didn't win enough games.

Q: What has the experience meant to you, two years as an NFL head coach?

A: I enjoyed every single day on this job. Literally, even some of the toughest days. Because it's the ultimate level of competition in a game that I love. A game I think teaches more lessons than anything in life. To be a head coach at the highest level, there's only 32 of them. I thoroughly enjoyed it, learned a ton. Similar to the first time, when I was an assistant coach, you can grow exponentiallly. I think I've done that as a head coach. I'm excited about using all the experiences I've been through moving forward, wherever that may be.

Q: The next coach isn't likely to have any direct ties to Mike Glennon. What are your hopes for him going forward?

A: It's no secret to you guys I think the world of Mike Glennon. I think he's an excellent quarterback. I think, in a very, very tough set of circumstances, this guy performed at a very high level. He's ultra-intelligent, can make every throw. You can say we didn't do this or that. This guy threw two touchdown passes (each) in eight games. I don't know that that's ever been done by a rookie. It's pretty darned impressive. Over the haul, and especially on an offensive football team, if you look at the year before, the yardage, (Doug) Martin and (Mike) Williams were half the yardage in that offense that wasn't playing. Yet Mike overcame that, I thought, and did an excellent job. That's what I mean when I say moving forward, whoever gets the opportunity to be part of this great franchise is going to have a guy they can lean on.

Q: Did you have a chance to talk to Mark Dominik and were you surprised both of you were let go?

A: I did have an opportunity to talk to Mark. Mark and I have grown very close over the last two years. I think he's an excellent general manager, a guy who's a young, bright, rising star in this business. Unfortunately, it didn't work out here for either one of us. I'm confident he'll rebound.

Q: A lot of ex-coaches go into broadcasting for a year or two. Would you consider something like that?

A: No, again, not to duck your question, I woke up this morning planning on getting ready for 2014. I have not had one minute to think about anything about my future. That's going to be leaning on my family, leaning on my faith to figure it out. Football coaching certainly is what I do. It's not who I am. I spend an inordinate amount of time on it, but I've got to settle down and see what's next.

Q: Do you feel two years was enough time?

A: It doesn't really matter what I feel. Right now, that is the National Football League. There was a coach let go with one year. I consider myself fortunate I got to (second year). That's the way it is.

Q: What's an unexpected lesson you've gotten from this?

A: I think this is a very real part of being a head football coach. Much more real than any other time in my career. I don't say that disparagingly or resentful. I just say it's real, it's a big part, managing the message. I've always felt very good inside the locker room and within your coaching staff.

Q: You said last week you thought the defense was a few pieces away from being dominant. What are those pieces? 

A: Unfortunately, that's not my job anymore. I'll let them figure it out. They can get that. I'm sure they will. They're bright people.

Q: Did you have the opportunity to say goodbye to your players?

A: I did get the opportunity to see some. As they left, some guys came back and got to share. They know how I feel. There's a lot of stuff out there, the discipline, the toes on the line, all that nonsense. The reality is they know I care about them as people and as football players. Sometimes I can be a pain in their rear end because I want them to be the best they can be in everything they do, not just lining up to play football. Our players know I care about them, not just me but our coaching staff. A bunch of them have reached out, and I'll keep that private. It's been good.

Q: You've had a reputation at least publicly of being a hardass, a disciplinarian. How close is that to how you really are?

A: I'm, I would say, detail-oriented. Sometimes that gets confused with hardass. When you're on a 120-yard field with people spread all over it, if you want to communicate, you've got to be loud. I don't have any problem raising my voice level. That can be construed as that. Always respectful in my opinion.

Q: Did we misunderstand you?

A: I don't know. That's up to you, I guess. I'm a husband and father, like a lot of you out here. I'm a football coach. That's my job. I think football's a game of details. Yes, it's a game of physicality and emotion, all those things. It's truly the most detail-oriented game it is, and that's why I love it. It takes 11 people moving simultaneously in concert. That's what we coach. Sometimes guys get frustrated, a step here, an angle here, how to place. That's a fine line. In this league, the talent level, as I said to our team today, there is talent, but what's going to separate are the details and how much you care about each other, who you're playing for.

Q: The NFL is a coach-quarterback league. If you don't get that right, how hard is it to overcome that?

A: I think we did get it right. We got it right late. This guy's going to be really good. He's not going to be good with me, but he's going to be really good.

Q: Talk about the first two months of the season, the media barrage directed at you, very personally at you. How difficult was that for you and your family, to just take it and not react? 

A: That's exactly what I did, I took it. I did not refute it. Most of it was untrue and hurtful to say the least. Not for me. I have thick skin. I've been doing this 26 years. Hurtful to people who care about me. Just needs to be more accuracy in things that are reported. I'm not talking about you, I'm talking in general. You can't just fly with it because it sounds good and it's a good story. One guy makes something and everybody follow it. That's not fair. When I said managing the message, that's a huge part of this job, without a doubt. There's a lot of mistruths. Maybe I should stand up, but I think when you're doing that, it looks like you're just trying to cover your own rear end.

Q: What do you want the people of the Tampa Bay area to know about you and what you're leaving behind?

A: I think we're leaving behind a football team better than we got here. I think we're leaving behind a culture that this city really wants, more than the city, this whole Tampa Bay area. I love it here. It's a great place. We've been accepted, the kids and everybody. I thank everybody for that, I really do. It's going to be fun to be a Buccaneers fan moving forward.

Let me just close, we joke around a lot and sometimes we don't see eye-to-eye, but I do want to thank ... everybody in this room has been very fair to me. I really believe that. We don't always agree but I want to thank you for the coverage you provided us, the relationships that you and I have developed are not going to go away. I plan on being in this game a long time, and I'm sure you guys as well.  A good friend of mine said something that really made sense once: He said 'This is just a bend in the road. It's not the end of the road.' Thanks.

[Last modified: Monday, December 30, 2013 6:59pm]

    

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