MOBILE, Ala. — Joe Barry is going back to college.
The Bucs released Barry from his contract as linebackers coach so he can rejoin former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin at Southern Cal to coach linebackers.
Barry had one year left on his contract that prevented him from taking another job in the NFL or college.
But the Bucs did not enforce that clause. That allowed Barry to sign a three-year deal with the Trojans, where he was a team captain and linebacker in 1992 and 1993, and a graduate assistant coach.
"It was a tough decision, especially leaving Tampa," said Barry, 39. "Our family loves living here. The fans have been unbelievable. We've had some good times, obviously, with the Super Bowl year, and we've kicked a lot of (butt). Even though last year was difficult, it was still special to be able to walk out onto Raymond James every Sunday.
"But (USC) made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I think 'SC couldn't have hired a better head coach to replace Pete Carroll than Lane Kiffin, and with Monte there, and the fact that I played there and my first coaching job was there, it just was the right thing for me and my family."
Bucs defensive backs coach Joe Baker will take Barry's position and coach linebackers. Baker coached linebackers with the Denver Broncos.
The Bucs have hired former assistant Jimmy Lake as a defensive backs coach. He held the same position with the Lions in 2008 and spent two years as the Bucs assistant defensive backs coach.
General manager Mark Dominik announced the moves Tuesday at the Senior Bowl.
The Trojans have been a launching pad for coaches. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates joined Carroll with the Seahawks. Former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is coaching the Washington Huskies. Lane Kiffin, who was the offensive coordinator at USC, has already coached the Raiders and the University of Tennessee.
"The reason behind it was not only Monte Kiffin and all the years of service that he brought to the team, but Joe Barry was a player at USC, a captain at USC, his wife is from there," Dominik said. "So in just talking through that with Joe and Coach (Raheem) Morris, we decided to let him have that opportunity, which was something that he wanted."
The Bucs are interviewing candidates for vacancies at quarterback coach and wide receivers coach. The Bucs didn't renew the contract of WR coach Richard Mann. Dominik said Tuesday that the team decided to go in another direction.
He indicated they are considering coaches from college, the NFL, and possibly former players such as wide receivers Ike Hilliard and Keenan McCardell.
RUN, RUN, BABY: The Bucs offense under coordinator Greg Olson will have many changes, including terminology and less emphasis on zone blocking. But philosophically, Dominik said it will be geared toward establishing the running game.
"You want to build around the quarterback, and in order to do that you have to be able to run the football," Dominik said. "I still see us being a football team like the Jets. It was impressive what they did in terms of running the football. (Former Raiders coach) Bill Callahan is the offensive line coach in New York. I'm not saying we're running (former Bucs coach) Jon Gruden's system. It's not the same system, but that's the football team we want to be."
LEAVITT IN TOWN: Former USF coach Jim Leavitt is in town, in part to watch his former players chase their NFL dreams, but also to talk about potential employment in the NFL. He declined to get specific, but Leavitt indicated he is open to coaching in the NFL in some capacity and made it clear he'll roam the sidelines again.
"I do want to coach," he said. "I'll coach again somewhere."
Former USF players George Selvie, Nate Allen and Jerome Murphy are taking part in the Senior Bowl.
Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.