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Schiano's fate with Bucs still unknown

Joel Glazer, left, and Bryan Glazer, with GM Mark Dominik, remain mum on their coach’s status.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Joel Glazer, left, and Bryan Glazer, with GM Mark Dominik, remain mum on their coach’s status.

NEW ORLEANS

In those final, fleeting moments of a season about to die, Greg Schiano stood on the sideline, his hands on his hips, his eyes locked on the field, his chin thrust forward.

To be honest, he did not look particularly happy.

For Schiano, and for the rest of us, this was the end of the nightmare, the final, wheezing breaths of a season that had been lost long ago. They didn't matter, these final ticks of the clock. To be fair, not many moments mattered all season long.

But if this was Schiano's last argument, it is fair to say that was lost, too.

This was indefensible. Whatever else you have thought of the Bucs coach this year, these last few moments were among his worst. His team had not challenged the Saints at all, and it had not slowed down Drew Brees. It was losing by 25, and it could have been much worse.

This was futile. This was wretched. This was 4-12, and looking back, how in the world did these Bucs ever win four?

Ah, but was it also goodbye?

That remains to be seen.

They are secretive men, these Glazers. They rarely speak of their intentions. In 2008, remember, it was weeks before they decided to fire Jon Gruden, a decision that surprised a great many people, Gruden included. If they are to the point of replacing a head coach, few people are going to know about it.

Will the 0-8 start to the season doom Schiano? Who knows? Will the 0-3 finish get him? Who knows? Will Schiano join the ex-coaches who are pushed over the side on Black Monday? Again, who knows?

Or, perhaps the better question is this: Will Schiano jump? In recent days, national headlines have suggested that Penn State will come after Schiano hard. Could you blame him for jumping at a 10-year opportunity rather than come back for a final showdown of a season?

Either way, it is fair to wonder just how long Schiano might reside in his office at One Buc Place. Four wins is rarely a safe place for a coach to be, especially when seven of the defeats were by 10 points or more.

"I don't think about that," Schiano said afterward. "It doesn't matter if it was this game or last game. When you coach, you put every waking moment into what you do. It's not like this is the game, I had better work. There is nothing else you can do. It's what I've done my whole career.

"I'm not satisfied with four. But it's not my decision. How many is enough? I really don't know."

If it were most of us, we would be extremely interested in the Penn State job. It is, after all, a place where the right coach can find a home for a long time. And that job won't be there next year. Still, Schiano dismissed the possibility again Sunday.

"I made the comment on Wednesday," he said. "I and no one connected with me has had any contact with Penn State. The job I have is the job I want."

Let's agree on this. Judging the job that Schiano has done is far more complicated than reading the standings. There were the wars with Josh Freeman at the start of the season, and there were the MRSA incidents, and there was an uncommon list of injuries. By the end, there wasn't a lot to rely on offensively.

Ah, but Sunday was also a disappointing day on defense. For the day, Brees threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns. He had a rating of 157.4. He also had four touchdown drives of at least 80 yards.

That the Bucs suffered their worst loss of the year reflects on Schiano. Sure it does.

In the locker room, there were certain players — Vincent Jackson, Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson — who praised Schiano but said it wasn't their job to say whether the head coach should be back.

"I think he's a brilliant guy and a good football coach," Jackson said. "But it's not my decision."

Others, such as Gerald McCoy and Davin Joseph, defended Schiano more emphatically.

"Coach is a great guy, a great coach," McCoy said. "He gives us 100 percent of himself day in and day out. There is never a time you question whether he is giving us his all or whether he cares or whether he has given up. That's just the way he is. He's done an awesome job of staying the course, of not getting off track or derailed by the (craziness) that's happening around us."

Joseph agrees.

"My opinion is yes, we keep him," Joseph said. "That's not my job, but it's my opinion.

"I see him every day. I see how committed he is. I see how hard he works. I see his vision for a team that, two years ago, didn't have a chance. He's turning that into something that can be very, very good and very, very special. That's what he was hired for. Let him do his job. He was hired to take a very bad Bucs team and turn them into something special. Are we headed in the right direction? The answer is yes."

Will how the players feel about Schiano matter in the end? Who knows?

Today, there can be louder arguments than ever that the Bucs should let Schiano go, or at the very least, let him go to Penn State. Think of it like this: For a very long time, the Saints have been a threat in the NFC South. If the Bucs can't challenge them better than this, then they have miles to go.

If it were me? Yeah, I'd probably bring Schiano back on the notion that two years isn't enough. On the other hand, I wouldn't fight for him. If Schiano were to get interested in Penn State, I'd probably pat him on the back and pack him a sandwich for the trip. In my mind, this thing is that close.

What will the Glazers do?

One more time: Who knows?

Schiano's fate with Bucs still unknown 12/29/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 29, 2013 10:34pm]

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