First impressions of Greg Schiano
Lousing up an opening news conference is hard to do.
Unless new Bucs coach Greg Schiano came out Friday dressed in fishnet stockings and called Pol Pot his hero, his Tampa Bay inauguration likely was going to go down in the win column. After all, in opening news conferences, you don't have to explain how that fourth-quarter lead got away or defend some lamebrain fake punt call.
Opening news conferences are about the hopeful future, not the disappointing past. They're about all the things you are going to do right because you have yet to do anything wrong. They're about potential and promise and optimism.
We saw that Friday when Schiano was introduced as the new Bucs coach, and for a moment, you couldn't help it. You wanted to strap on some pads, charge out into the streets and look for someone to pancake.
But there was more to Friday than unicorns and rainbows. Here are five impressions from Schiano's opening news conference.
He seems like a head coach
Remember Raheem Morris' first news conference? He looked like a guy who had never stood on a podium before. You know why? He had never stood on a podium before.
Morris seemed nervous. He looked like a man in way over his head. Not Schiano. He feels like a head coach, a CEO, a guy who knows what the heck he is doing.
He was cool. He was calm. He spoke confidently but not arrogantly. He was idealistic yet realistic. Schiano wasn't predicting double-digit wins or putting an expiration date on Super Bowl promises. Instead of telling fans what they wanted to hear, he told them what they needed to hear. There's work to be done. Lots of it. And it felt like he was already rolling up his sleeves.
He seems like a disciplinarian, for now
Schiano came in with a catch-phrase: TBA. It stands for trust, belief and accountability.
"I can tell you accountability doesn't work unless it's consistent,'' he said. "It doesn't work unless there's consequences. You're always best when you know where the boundaries are. When you don't know where the boundaries are, you start drifting. You end up in a bad place, and you don'tknow how you got there.''
Sounds great. Then again, it's easy to be tough when talking about hypothetical problems in the future as opposed to real problems the night before a must-win game.
What do the players think? Do they need discipline?
"We weren't winning, so we need something,'' running back LeGarrette Blount said.
He's essentially a college coach
When Schiano talks about career highlights, the best he can offer is beating the likes of Pitt and Louisville. This line is already making the rounds among the doubters: How can Schiano win the NFC South when he never even won the Big East? Speaking of which, it seems like a thousand teams have come through the Big East, but the Saints and Falcons most certainly did not.
Yes, he was an NFL assistant once, but that was back in the late 1990s -- a hundred years ago in NFL time.
It's also true that most recent college-turned-pro coaches have been unholy messes. But as Schiano points out, seven or eight coaches get fired every year, and they're not all former college coaches.
"Everybody has trouble,'' he said. "It's a competitive league.''
He has plenty of work to do
Schiano admitted he doesn't know a lot about the Bucs roster other than it has a good core of young players. He can't tell you the preciseness of the receivers' routes or the quickness in the first step of the tackles. Most of you reading this have watched Josh Freeman more than Schiano has. He doesn't have a staff yet. He preaches "trust,'' but you can't have trust while you're still learning everyone's name.
You get the impression that he and general manager Mark Dominik still have to sort out who is in charge of what and how much input one has in the other's area of expertise. It's like a couple. They've had a nice first date, but it's a long way from saying it will be a happy marriage.
There's a lot to like, so far
With four beautiful children, a lovely wife and a proud set of parents who were all smiles Friday, Schiano says family is a priority. He considers himself a man of faith. He is well respected by his former players at Rutgers.
He quoted John Wooden on Friday and called Joe Paterno a mentor. He smartly dropped names such as Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Warren Sapp. Not only did he win Friday's news conference, he ran up the score.
Just one problem: The opening news conference is the easiest opponent Schiano will ever face while coaching the Bucs.