Clear70° WeatherClear70° Weather

Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Lovie Smith is officially the Bucs head coach

2

January

vie Smith has a solid history with the Buccaneers, but he was hired as the franchise's 10th head coach because of his vision for the future.

The Bucs announced Thursday that Smith has been signed to a five-year contract. The team will hold a news conference at One Buc Place to introduce Smith at 2 p.m. Monday.

"Today is an exciting day for the Buccaneer organization, and the entire Tampa Bay community, as we welcome back Lovie Smith," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer. “Lovie is an accomplished and very well respected head coach who has enjoyed success at every level of his 30-year career. We knew from the start of our search that he was the ideal man to lead this team into this new era of Buccaneer football.”

The Glazers moved quickly to hire Smith, interviewing him on Tuesday at his home in Chicago and entering negotiations Wednesday night on a contract. Terms of the deal were not released but it is expected to  pay Smith in excess of $5-million per year.

"It's a good situation for Lovie and the Bucs,'' said former Jets and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, who is in St. Petersburg to coach in the Under Armour All American Bowl. "A guy who I think first of all knows the climate there and he knows the ownership, he knows what he's walking into and he's inheriting a pretty good football team. It's kind of ironic, but if you think about the Tampa Bay fans, they expect you to play good defense. They grew up winning with defense, even with (John) McKay they won with defense.''

The contract was negotiated by Smith's son, Matthew, who works for IMG and serves as his agent. Matthew Smith said the family was excited to return to Tampa in a series of tweeets Thursday.

"I almost feel like ...FINALLY THE SMITHS HAVE COME BACK TO TAMPA!'' Matthew Smith tweeted. "I remember the first ever game at Raymond James Stadium. Dave Moore caught one-handed touchdown grab to lead the Bucs in an epic comeback!

"When I worked the net crew at RJS, a t-shirt fired from a cannon hit me square in the head. Lesson learned: keep head on the swivel.''

Smith, 55, began his NFL coaching career in Tampa Bay as a linebackers coach on Tony Dungy's first staff in 1996. He led the Bears to the Super Bowl after the '06 season and was 81-63 in nine  regular seasons and 3-3 in the playoffs. He won three NFC North titles. Smith was named AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2005.

Smith was fired after going 10-6 and missing the playoffs in 2012. He spent a year out of football and was destined to become one of the most highly coveted coaches available. Smith interviewed with the Houston Texans, who hired Penn State coach Bill O'Brien. The Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins also wanted to interview  Smith.

Various media reports have said Smith plans to hire former California head coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator. Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, Smith's best friend, is apparently his first choice for defensive coordinator. But Marinelli would have to be released from his contract in Dallas. Former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier also is a candidate for a role on Smith's coaching staff in Tampa Bay.

Smith will bring credibility as a proven winning NFL head coach to what was a chaotic two seasons under Greg Schiano, who was fired along with general manager Mark Dominik Monday.

Under Smith, the Bears defense was one of the best in the NFL, allowing the fourth-fewest points per game and recording the second-most interceptions.

He inherits the framwork of his Tampa 2 defense with under tackle Gerald McCoy, weakside linebacker Lavonte David and strong safety Mark Barron. Some have questioned whether Smith will retain cornerback Darrelle Revis, who signed a series of 1-year, $16-million contracts. But $3-million of Revis deal is paid for off-season workouts and the Bucs have the right to restructure his deal in order to create a more favorable salary cap figure.

Revis on Thursday tweeted he was anxious to meet Smith. "I'm excited about the future for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Heard some great things about Lovie Smith & can't wait to finally meet him,'' Revis tweeted.      

The Bucs still have to pair Smith with a general manager. Smith's long-time friend Chris Ballard, the Kansas City Chiefs' director of player personnel, could be joining him in Tampa Bay in that role.

 

[Last modified: Thursday, January 2, 2014 5:16pm]

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...