PALM BEACH — The Buccaneers have a new head coach in Greg Schiano, three high-priced free agents, a bump in ticket sales that is a step toward ending blackouts and a belief in their plan to build a consistent winner.
Co-chairman Joel Glazer believes that the franchise, which finished 4-12 in 2011, including 10 straight losses that led to the firing of coach Raheem Morris and his staff, is headed for calmer waters.
But he admits mistakes.
"When you have a season like last season, everybody should accept responsibility, from the owner to the general manager to the head coach," Glazer said from the NFL owners' meetings in Palm Beach. "No question, at the end of the season, I felt it. Geez, maybe we should have, maybe we were too extreme in what we did. …
"It's a very painful process and I don't think a lot of people have the stomach for the process but we just believe to get there, you have to go through that."
The Bucs' 24-day search for a coach led them to Schiano, the former Rutgers coach who brings organization, discipline — and yes, Glazer says — integrity that might have been lost in three seasons under Morris.
"You've got to have sustained success, you've got to stand for certain things in our community and I think that's what people are going to see with coach Schiano. He has something he stands for and his beliefs, and the locker room is going to see he stands for certain things," Glazer said. "He talks about being Buccaneer men and what he expects, and the team will soon hear what he expects, and I think the community will soon embrace that."
In an interview with the Times, Glazer talked about topics including the firing of Morris, retaining general manager Mark Dominik, investing in free agents and the positive response by Bucs fans over recent weeks that has resulted in an increase in season ticket sales.
On what led to hiring Schiano:
"The more people we talked to, my gosh, it was amazing the more one person after another had more and more positive things to say about coach Schiano, whether it was his integrity, whether it was his football smarts, whether it's the way he deals with players, the way he teaches, his approach," Glazer said. "When we got to the end, it was very clear that this was the guy that brought something different to the table and … will fit very well with the things he stands for on and off the field."
On the response of fans to the signing of free agents Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright:
"It's been a tremendous response," Glazer said. "The excitement I feel when we're talking to people, the input we're getting from our season ticket holders, our fans in general, the effect it's seemed to have is the re-energizing of our fan base in the Tampa community and kind of re-engaging them with the Buccaneers. … People say, hey, was this really part of the plan? I always go back to when we set out on this plan a few years ago, this was part of the plan. But the appropriate time to do something like this wasn't in the beginning."
On ending television blackouts:
"First of all, we've seen a great response in our ticket office, A: when we hired Coach Schiano; and then, B: in free agency," Glazer said. "So with our renewals and our existing season ticket holders, they're excited. We've seen a great response there. From new sales, we've seen a great response there as well. That being said, we obviously have a ways to go, and that is the No. 1 priority for us. … The key thing is we want our fans to be able to watch every single game on television, and we're going to work our tails off to get back to that because it means so much to the community, it means so much to our fans."
On retaining Dominik:
"I think Mark knows what he wants to do and he has a plan in his mind. Again, in football, nobody ever hits it all the time," Glazer said. "And sometimes when you're a general manager for the first time, you're going to make some mistakes. The key is, did you learn from those mistakes? The way he handled this coaching search, behind the scenes which I know a lot of people didn't see, the work he's done in the offseason, the job he did getting these free agents in, the preparatory work being done for the draft, we have great confidence in Mark."
On whether he believes some "integrity" was lost in three seasons under Morris.
"At (Monday's) owners meeting, there was a focus group of fans brought in to talk to the owners and all of them, to a person, said one thing. And the one thing was what was important to them, was the integrity of the players, the NFL and what happens on and off the field. They pay attention. Over everything, integrity was No. 1.
"Sometimes, after a bad season, you have to take a step back … and look at where we're at, where we've been and what we've got to do to get back to what we really believe in and what we stand for and what we want to stand for and what the community wants us to be. And I think you're going to start to see all those things calibrate back to what the Buccaneers are all about.
"I have great respect for coach Morris. I always have. But I'm excited for what coach Schiano is bringing to our team and what he'll bring to our community and what he will bring to the players in the locker room."
On his reaction to the one-year suspension of Saints coach Sean Payton by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in player bounties:
"We heard it (Monday) from fans, integrity is the No. 1 item in the National Football League and player safety is paramount," Glazer said. "So, what happened there is a tough situation and obviously, there's no place for it in our game and the commissioner acted in that situation responsibly to protect the game on the field and protect the integrity of the National Football League. . . . You never like to see any team have a situation like that."