Lovie Smith: Bucs also fired a coach entering the Hall of Fame
Lovie Smith was introduced as the head football coach at the University of Illinois Monday, and speaking about his firing by the Bucs for the first time, took a shot by saying the Glazer family which owns the team also terminated Tony Dungy, a coach elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month.
Smith went 8-24 in two years as head coach with the Bucs and was fired three days following the 2015 regular season.
“Well, a coach is a coach. And as far as what happened down in Tampa, you know, when you’ve been in this business as long as I have, I think we all end up where we belong. And to me, where we belong by me signing a six year contract (with Illinois) says where we think we should be,'' Smith said. "As far as Tampa Bay, you just have to kind of take it. You know, there’s a coach (Tony Dungy) going in the Hall of Fame this summer that was also fired by the Buccaneers so you just take it and move on. I’m not saying that in a bad light, that’s just our profession. That happens. When something like that happens, by me leaving there, it gave me this great opportunity to really have an impact on young men’s lives.’’
Smith has spent the past 20 years in the NFL but said he has no plans to return to the league and wants to finish his career as the coach at Illinois.
“I signed a six year contract. I’m not going anywhere,'' Smith said. "This is the start of the third quarter of my football career. This is where I want to finish my football career. So don’t what better commitment I can show everyone that we’re here for the long haul than that.’’
Smith said the opportunuty to impact the lives of young men drew him to returning to the college game.
“That’s what made the job so attractive to me,'' Smith said. "The time when you can have the most impact on young men’s lives is during that period of time when they’re leaving high school and coming into college. I feel like I’m a teacher. As I look for coaches on my staff, I’m looking for stern teachers.
“Once you get to the NFL, a lot of that has already been done. Who you are has been established.''
The last time Smith was a college coach was in 1995 as a defensive backs coach at Ohio State. That was before social media, which is a key component to recruiting. But he says at age 57 he can adapt.
“I think it’s a misnomer that I’m some old guy that doesn’t know what’s going on right now,'' Smith said. "And I can adjust to social media right now. I’ll be able to make that switch fairly easy. I don’t have a Twitter account currently but I will get one.’’