Koetter admits 'awkwardness,' of replacing Lovie Smith
Dirk Koetter was recovering at home from hip replacement surgery when the news broke that Lovie Smith had been fired by the Bucs three days after the regular season ended.
Hired by Smith as offensvie coordinator, Koetter had head coaching interviews lined up with other teams, including the 49ers. When he was asked by general manager Jason Licht if he wanted to be considered for the Bucs' head coaching job, he didn't hesitate despite 'the awkwardness' of the situation.
“I’m not going to lie, there’s some awkwardness there,’’ Koetter said. “I guess the one thing I would say, the time line there, we play Carolina on that Sunday and everybody is in the office on that Monday having our end of season meetings with the players. Tuesday morning, the very next morning, I was in the hospital having my hip replaced. Then Wednesday night was the announcement on Lovie. I was home from the hospital but I was still medicated at the time and I found out like everybody else did. You know, during that whole time frame, I have an agent and it became clear I was going to have a chance with a couple other teams to be (considered as) a head coach. You know, where? Was I going to be a head coach somewhere else? Was I going to have a chance to be the coach in Tampa? Was I going to be the offensive coordinator in Tampa under someone else or was I going to coach my son’s high school team as an assistant because (Berkley Prep coach) Dominik Ciao isn't going anywhere.
“So that’s the awkward, uncomfortable side of this profession, when you get into the coaching change season. I said it in my press conference, everybody likes to talk about it, but when it’s your life and your family in there, not just me but Lovie’s and everybody’s involved.’’
The Bucs liked what Koetter had done for QB Jameis Winston and the offense, which set a club record with more than 6,000 yards.
Did Koetter have to think twice about becoming the Bucs’ coach?
“No. Because again, I was not part of that decision,’’ Koetter said. “I was brought in to be the offensive coordinator and I will always appreciate Lovie for doing that and for letting myself and the offensive coaches do what we needed to do on offense. But once the decision was made, and again, I was as surprised as anyone, they’re going to hire a new coach. They’re going to hire a new coach and at that point I’m like anybody else, I don’t know what my future is at that point. When you are on a team, you know the insides and outs of that team more than any other team. So of course, I wanted the opportunity if it was going to present itself because I think highly of our players and I think highly of Jason (Licht). There’s all kinds of things when you talk about your family. I’ve got a son that’s going to be a senior in high school. We just moved to Tampa a year ago. I’ve got a daughter that lives in Tampa. Of course I wanted to do it.’’