TAMPA — When he was introduced to the world as the Bucs' new coach in January, Greg Schiano made it a point to lay out some of his non-negotiable principles and expectations.
On Monday, Schiano finally was able to convey that message to his team.
Schiano used the first official day of offseason work to set the tone for his tenure as the Bucs began their revamped offseason program in accordance with the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement.
For Schiano, the day was a long time in the making.
"Today marks the beginning of something," he said. "It's nice to have a football team to stand in front of. Our coaching staff has worked incredibly hard since they've trickled into Tampa.
"We're in the beginning stages of who we're going to be. To be able to talk to the team about football and talk about what we're going to be as an organization, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I didn't fly out of bed this morning excited to go."
For Schiano and his staff, Monday was the symbolic start to the 2012 campaign, with only strength and conditioning permitted in the next two weeks.
Still, it marks a key point in the offseason.
The collective bargaining agreement, agreed to in July, strictly limits the kinds of offseason activities teams can conduct. There also are firm time frames in which certain kinds of workouts are prohibited.
Until Monday, Schiano and his coaches were barred from even discussing basic football matters with players. For a team preparing to install new offensive and defensive schemes, this presented a unique challenge.
The new offseason rules have frustrated many coaches, who find it limiting that they can't communicate with players about football until April — even if those players wish to.
Some voiced those concerns.
"Just speaking from a head coach's perspective, I think we would be unanimously in favor of them maybe revisiting (the rules)," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said last week. "It's good not only for coaches, but for young players to develop. You're waiting so long (to get started).
"Not that you have to go to extremes, but it would be great to have the quarterback in the building, especially from a new head coach's standpoint and an installation standpoint with a new offense. Having to wait until April 1 is difficult."
Nonetheless, the wait is over for the Bucs.
Schiano said he was encouraged by Monday's attendance.
"It was great," he said. "We had a really good turnout. I had some guys who contacted me before and let me know that they had some things they had scheduled previously. This is not mandatory. I was very impressed with the commitment level of our guys, being here on time and ready to go."
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.