Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Most available coaching candidates lack the 'wow' factor

Overnight, he has become the Fisher King.

The Dolphins brought him to their facility by helicopter. The Rams, you imagine, will send a carriage drawn by linebackers. By the time he gets to Tampa, Fisher may arrive on the back on Albert Haynesworth, whom he will promptly say goodbye to once again.

Just like that, Fisher has become the Lombardi du jour, and his playbook has become the Golden Fleece. He is the coach in the latest NFL auction, and the froth by the pursuing teams is visible.

All of which brings up a question.

Where's the "wow"?

Don't get me wrong. Fisher is a nice coach, and he would look just fine in Bucs colors. He has enough of a resume to get the attention of a young team. All in all, I'd give him a "hmm.''

But "wow"?

Not quite. On a scale of 100, I'd give him a wow factor of about, oh, 84.

Yes, Fisher reached a Super Bowl. But only one in 17 seasons of coaching. He reached the playoffs six times, roughly once every three years. In his first five seasons, he was 32-38. In his last two, he was 14-18. In one six-year stretch in between, he was 38-51.

Of course, it isn't Fisher's fault that teams want him so badly. He's just a guy looking for work. He didn't order the trumpets. Besides, doesn't the lack of wow factor reflect less on Fisher than on the rest of the field out there?

Is it just this season, or have coaches gotten smaller? Glance at the names being tossed about out there, and there aren't many that deserve a decent-sized headline.

Do you want to know the definition of wow? It was the morning you woke up and found out the Bucs had traded for the rights to Jon Gruden. Blammo. It was the lead story on every outlet that writes about sports. There could not have been a larger first-day impact.

Granted, wow factor doesn't always translate into trophies. Steve Spurrier had wow when he went to the Redskins. Joe Gibbs had Hall of Fame wow when he returned to Washington, and Mike Ditka had it when he went to the Saints, and Jimmy Johnson had it when he went to the Dolphins. And the fireworks never went off.

Conversely, Tony Dungy wasn't a wow hire. Neither was Green Bay's Mike McCarthy or New England's Bill Belichick or New Orleans' Sean Payton. With those guys, the big headlines came later.

Look around. Who out there takes your breath away? Who makes you pump your fist? More important, who makes you rush to the ticket office? Anyone?

The candidates other than Fisher:

Bill Cowher: Cowher is a fine coach, and he probably has the most wow of anyone not coaching. For a long time, however, fans in Pittsburgh thought of him as an underachiever, a guy who lost three AFC title games at home. In his next-to-last year, Cowher did win a Super Bowl, and he has been gone long enough that he looks like the wise man on the mountain.

Wow factor: 94.

Gruden: No, he isn't coming home. But he would still be a wow for a franchise that has a strong personnel department and needs a push over the top.

Wow factor: 87.

Brian Billick: For whatever reason, Billick's Super Bowl victory doesn't seem to carry the same weight as Cowher's or Gruden's. Perhaps that's because he had a losing record in two of his last three seasons, or because he won only two division titles in nine years.

Wow factor: 73.

Mike Sherman: You look at Sherman's resume and think, "Okay, what's the problem?'' At Green Bay, Sherman had winning seasons in five of six years, including three division titles. Overall, he was 57-39, good enough to make you forget he was just fired at Texas A&M.

Still, there is this. When the Packers fired Sherman, they were about to move from Brett Favre to a young Aaron Rodgers. They did not consider Sherman the man to lead the Packers into the future.

If the Packers didn't, why should the Bucs?

Wow factor: 71.

Mike Martz: Bucs fans know Martz well from all of those terrific battles between the great Bucs defenses and the great Rams offenses. Martz won three division titles and lost one Super Bowl with the Rams.

Since then, Martz has lost luster. He had a losing record three of his last four years, and he hasn't been a head coach in six. This week, he resigned as offensive coordinator of the Bears.

Wow factor: 40.

Herm Edwards: Edwards is a fine teacher and a good guy. Still, one division title and four losing seasons in eight years isn't good enough.

Wow factor: 38.

Mike Mularkey: The Bucs could do a lot worse. Mularkey has been a head coach and a hot coordinator. In Buffalo, Mularkey was 14-18 before resigning because of a lack of common direction in the front office. More recently, he has done a nice job with the Falcons.

Wow factor: 35, but it should be higher.

Jerry Gray: Gray may be a terrific coach. But who can tell? In five years as a defensive coordinator in Buffalo, the Bills were 31-49. This year, as defensive coordinator of the Titans, his defense was 18th.

Gray has a great reputation, but are those numbers good enough? Besides, coordinators rarely come with wow.

Wow factor: 14.

Again, the Bucs' hire shouldn't be about the wow. It should be about winning.

If that happens, you can always "wow" later.

Comments
Despite injury, Gerald McCoy wants to play this season

Despite injury, Gerald McCoy wants to play this season

Even dealing with a biceps injury and his Bucs at 4-9, Gerald McCoy isn't giving up on playing this season."I'm a fighter," McCoy said Tuesday night. "Y'all know me. I don't quit. I give it everything I have. Even the slightest possibility of being a...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Bucsí defensive line surprises families with Christmas spree

Bucsí defensive line surprises families with Christmas spree

The West Club at Raymond James Stadium was packed on Tuesday night with 75 needy local families who thought they were getting a holiday dinner and stadium tour with Bucs players.The defensive line stepped up to give the families a much bigger surpris...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs promote rookie LB Riley Bullough to active roster

Bucs promote rookie LB Riley Bullough to active roster

The Bucs have promoted rookie LB Riley Bullough — a cult favorite back in August after being nicknamed "Joe Dirt" on HBO's "Hard Knocks" — to the active roster after he spent three months on the team's practice squad.Bullough, undrafted o...
Published: 12/12/17
Bucs sign ex-USF LB Nigel Harris to practice squad

Bucs sign ex-USF LB Nigel Harris to practice squad

The Bucs have signed former Hillsborough High and USF linebacker Nigel Harris to their practice squad after a workout Tuesday.Harris, 23, has played for the Chargers and Giants already this season as an undrafted rookie. He had 11 tackles in five gam...
Published: 12/12/17
Your turn: Who deserves more credit for Bucs’ Super Bowl victory?

Your turn: Who deserves more credit for Bucs’ Super Bowl victory?

Fifteen years later, Tampa Bay's Great Sports Debate continues: Who deserves more credit for the Bucs' Super Bowl victory, Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? With the Bucs set to induct Gruden into the Ring of Honor on Monday, what do you think?†Email your ...
Published: 12/12/17
Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp, a former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer, has been accused of sexual harassment while working as an analyst with NFL Network, according to a lawsuit.NFL Network has suspended analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor "pendin...
Published: 12/12/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Piling on Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter

Rick and Tom podcast: Piling on Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter

Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss what impact the reported rift between Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter has going forward.
Published: 12/12/17
Explosives? On 40-yard plays, Bucs among NFLís worst

Explosives? On 40-yard plays, Bucs among NFLís worst

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has key statistics that he puts great value in, finding a close correlation between success in those areas and success on the scoreboard. Winning the takeaway battle is always first among those priorities, but he and his staff...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Bucs journal: Brent Grimes matches Richard Sherman for INTs since 2013

Bucs journal: Brent Grimes matches Richard Sherman for INTs since 2013

TAMPA ó CB Brent Grimes picked up his third interception of the season in Sundayís loss to the Lions, tying him for the Bucsí team lead and with another, more impressive group.Since the start of the 2013 season, Grimes has 20 interceptions, tying him...
Published: 12/11/17
Could report of rift relate to Jameis Winstonís damaged brand?

Could report of rift relate to Jameis Winstonís damaged brand?

TAMPA ó What we have at One Buc Place is a game of Clue. The whodunit in this case is the person(s) who put out the information that quarterback Jameis Winstonís relationship with coach Dirk Koetter is on cracked ice.Was it Winston in the weight room...
Published: 12/11/17