TAMPA — Marty Schottenheimer is likely the oldest head coaching candidate the Bucs will interview at 68, but he believes he may be the best one to lead the youngest team in the NFL.
Schottenheimer interviewed with the Bucs on Tuesday and had what he described as "an enjoyable dialogue.'' Both committed to further discussions.
"I think they've got some great young players on that team," Schottenheimer told the Times. "They've also got some really solid veterans. And when you see them develop, that's always very exciting for every coach.
"In my particular case, I like to work with kids. I refer to them as kids, even though I know they're grown men. But I like to give them the benefit of my insight as to what I've seen and experienced in this business. I am a teacher."
Terry Shea, who worked under Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator with the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League this season, says his former boss will have no trouble relating to young players.
"I think No. 1, he generates tremendous respect and it's a two-way street that he operates from," Shea said. "The younger player would certainly grow to respect Coach Schottenheimer to the point where they'd run through a wall for him.
"That would be what he brings to the game today, tremendous impact on the younger player, teaching him how to play as professional, how to prepare and consequently how to win."
Schottenheimer would be the polar opposite to fired Bucs coach Raheem Morris, 35.
In 21 seasons as coach of the Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers, Schottenheimer is 200-126-1. He last coached in the NFL in 2006, when his Chargers went 14-2. But San Diego lost in the second round of the playoffs and he was fired in February 2007.
He noted that of 72 players under contract for the Bucs (including futures contracts), all but 10 are 28 or younger.
"They're some talented players in that group and I think they're committed to finding a way to win," Schottenheimer said. "I like the challenge of building things and with as many young players as there are, you'll get a chance to do that."
The Bucs will have interviewed three other former NFL head coaches over age 55: former Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, former Vikings coach Brad Childress and Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
Childress, who talked to the Bucs on Monday, is impressed with quarterback Josh Freeman.
"They have a good, young football team," Childress said Tuesday. "I liked Josh when he came out of college. You know, if you don't have (a quarterback), you're always looking for one and I believe he can be that guy."
Childress was the quarterbacks coach for the Eagles from 1999-2002 and helped develop Donovan McNabb. He also was Eagles offensive coordinator from 2003-05.
But the most intriguing candidate is Schottenheimer, whom Shea said was "re-energized'' after leading Virginia to a UFL title in an abbreviated season.
"He's a very demonstrative figure," Shea said. "He stands up, he's got the stature, he's got the strong voice and history he's got the track record of winning. All of that plays into his presentation and how well he's received.
"What he does bring to a football organization, he brings integrity, a no-nonsense approach in terms of how he handles discipline and he holds every person within the organization he's dealing with accountable."
Schottenheimer said there's nothing like watching young players develop into winners.
"To watch these young men take the information that me and the staff provides to them and they, in kind, combine that with the skill set that they have, I live vicariously through their play. It's like me out there doing it."