Report: Lovie Smith may hire Bucs RBs coach to Illinois
UPDATE: Everything points to Tim Spencer staying with the Bucs and not leaving to join Lovie Smith at Illinois. Footballscoop.com reported he was staying, and when I sent out a tweet sharing that report, Spencer's wife retweeted it, which is a very 21st century kind of social-media confirmation. Sorry for the circus yesterday ...
Former Bucs coach Lovie Smith is bringing back many of his 2015 assistant coaches for his new coaching staff to Illinois, and that now reportedly may include a current Bucs assistant.
Coachingsearch.com initially reported that running backs coach Tim Spencer -- who coached with Smith for his entire tenure with the Bears as well -- is leaving the Bucs to join the Illinois staff in the same role. They followed that with a report that the move was not a done deal and he was "weighing his options." It may be a lesser job, but it's more about the personal connection between the two longtime colleagues.
Smith has reportedly hired two former Bucs assistants that had taken other NFL jobs -- ex-Bucs linebacker Hardy Nickerson, who had joined the 49ers as linebackers coach, will be his defensive coordinator, and Andrew Hayes-Stoker, who had signed on as assistant to the head coach with the Colts, will be back as his receivers coach.
One obvious successor for Dirk Koetter's new opening -- if there is one, of course -- would be Earnest Byner, who worked with Doug Martin for two seasons as Bucs running backs coach in 2012-13 and worked with Koetter on the Jaguars offensive staff in 2010-11. Byner, reached by phone on Wednesday, said he had not been contacted by the Bucs.