If Bucs aren't winning, Glazers will change, change again
They have had four head coaches and three general managers in seven years, not a single playoff appearance, a 37-59 record (from 2008-13) and an entire draft class disappear. It’s ‘unacceptable,’ Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said Tuesday from the NFL owner’s meetings.
"And when you’ve had the results we’ve had the last few years, it’s not only unacceptable, it’s gut wrenching. It’s sickening. It’s a lot of different things you just don’t enjoy, just like our fans don’t enjoy it.’’
The only constant for the Bucs has been change and this year might bring the most dramatic transformation in club history, from new uniforms to coach Lovie Smith, general manager Jason Licht and 12 free agents (and counting).
So what as been the reason for such failure for the Glazer family which owns the Bucs and won the Lombardi Trophy in the 2002 season?
“As I sit here, I don’t think you can point to one thing or another,’’ Glazer said. “At this point we’re very focused on the future going forward and trying to correct the problems of the past. But, clearly it hasn’t worked and that’s why changes had to be made this year because we were 4-12 this year and just to sit around and keep going a direction thinking something is going to change and taking those big chances, we’re not above saying, “Hey, this isn’t working.' We’re part of the organization and we’ve got to make changes to change what’s happening on the field.
“Those are the steps we took. We brought in a lot of experience. We brought in different view points and we think it will translate to success going forward.’’
Even though the family’s professional sports holdings now include the Manchester United soccer club and the Bucs co-chairmen are spread across the corners of the map, Glazer says it hasn’t lessened their commitment to their NFL team.
“No. Our passion to win, our passion for the Buccaneers, that has not changed at all,’’ Glazer said. “If I was down on the sideline coaching or I was drafting or whatever, I would say that’s accurate. But no, there’s a lot of people with a lot of different business, but one of ours happens to be very high profile, so I can see why people might think that. But our dedication, our focus, the passion, the losses hurt just as much as they always have, but our support is there for Lovie, for Jason, give them everything they need.
“Again, that’s what we view as our primary responsibility, to make sure they have the tools they need to do everything they can to win.’’
On Tuesday, Glazer met with reporters in a group and later with the Times.
Q: Has this been as much change as you've ever experienced with the team?
Glazer: “There’s been a lot of change. But it’s been refreshing, it’s been exciting. We’ve got a lot of positive feedback from our fans. They’re excited. You can feel they’re re-energized. With Lovie and Jason, they have a good plan and we’re excited to watch it unfold.
"I know Jason and Lovie are excited about the certain types of players they’ve brought in and we were 4-12 last year. We just can’t sit still…this team needs some drastic changes and we want to get back up into the upper echelon of the National Football League and this is the way they felt we had to go about it so we support what they wanted to do.''
Q: You were aggressive in hiring Lovie Smith. Why?
Glazer: “I think first and foremost was his success over the years and we just happened to also know him. So when you add that combination, it’s logical. One thing I have learned over the years, when you’re trying to pursue a coach and there is a coach out there that you think is the right fit, you can’t wait around. You have to act, you have to act quick because there are a lot of people looking for good coaches. So in this case, it starts with Lovie’s track record, his history, his vast experience and it’s great we have a history with and know him and he knows us.''
Q: What role does your ownership play in big player personnel decisions? Did you make the decision to release Darrelle Revis?
Glazer: “Ultimately, we like to let the coach and general manager make decisions. But they obviously will keep us up to date on what’s going on. Before they’re about to do something, check with us just to make sure we’re in the know of what’s going on. But ultimately, we’re there to be supportive of what they want to do and provide the support. That’s always been our No. 1 role.
“We’re the owners, so they’re always telling us what’s going on. But they’re the ones putting in the time and the effort and the work, trying to understand the players.''
Q: There's been speculation that Greg Schiano didn't want Josh Freeman as his QB in 2013. Did you have input in that decision?
Glazer: "Anytime there would be a major decision, we would be informed of what the thought process or thinking is. But ultimately, ultimately, we’re there to support what the general manager or head coach wants to do.''
Q: How concerned are you about the Bucs' dwindling fan base? Speculation is that the season ticket base was 26,000 last year.
Glazer: “Our fans have been great. They’ve been very supportive of the team. We saw a definite increase in attendance last year and we have great fans. Our job is to put a winning team on the field so they’re there. They want to support a winning team. It’s our job to give them that winning team. But our fans have been great in these times, they’ve been supportive and we have some of the best fans in the National Football League.''
Q: Last year you guaranteed there would be no TV blackouts and every game would be aired locally. Are you willing to do that again?
Glazer: "Like last year, we were happy we were able to get all the games on TV. And that’s our hope again this year. Ticket sales have been positive again this year. It’s not something we want to get ahead of ourselves on. We know that’s what’s best for our fans, to have all the games on TV. But right now, we’re focused on getting tickets sold because there’s nothing better than having fans in the seats. Then we’ll make the decision from there.''
Q: So you're still undecided?
Glazer: “The focus has been on been getting tickets sold and getting fans in the seats. As you see with the 12th man or whatever it is, it makes a difference. The players respond, it makes a better game day experience. That’s absolutely our focus but at the same time we want the broader fan base to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.''
Q: Do you anticipate any upgrades to Raymond James Stadium, such as improved concessions or new scoreboards?
A: "There is some work being done at Raymond James. The fan experience and stadium experience is always something we’re focused on. It’s been a tremendous focus the last several years. We’re getting great feedback. Anything we do, our focus groups, any work the NFL has done, we come back near the top of customer service and fan satisfaction, all things we’re proud of. We‘re always looking at that and trying to improve.
Q: So will you have new scoreboards this season?
Glazer: "For this season, no.''
Q: The Bucs won a Super Bowl not long after you took over as owners. How much does losing bother you?
Glazer: "Here’s what I know. When you’ve been around a team that has been in the hunt for a Super Bowl and you’ve been in a locker room that’s held up the Vince Lombardi Trophy and you’ve had that experience, you’ve had that feeling, nothing comes close.
"And when you've had the results we've had the last few years, it's not only unacceptable, it's gut wrenching.''