INDIANAPOLIS — When Bucs coach Greg Schiano and a few of his assistants gather in a hotel room to interview a prospective draft choice at the NFL combine, they will begin by greeting the player.
Right after the coaches introduce themselves to each other.
In some cases, the combine, which runs through Tuesday, will be where coaches on the Bucs staff meet for the first time. The slow pace of hiring has been unavoidable, said Schiano, hired Jan. 26 and whose staff still isn't complete.
Schiano announced his defensive coaches, the special teams coordinator and most of the offensive assistants at the combine, which began Wednesday. He says he has three more positions to fill, including quarterbacks coach.
Unlike when Schiano was a defensive backs coach for the Bears 14 years ago, most teams now don't allow assistant coaches to interview with other clubs even if the position is an advancement. Other clubs denied the Bucs permission to interview their assistants for coordinator jobs as many as 15 times.
"I … understand that abuse leads to restrictions, and that's exactly what happened with all the half-baked titles and that stuff," Schiano said. "It was difficult."
In the end, Schiano believes pumping the brakes on the hiring process might have produced a better staff than if the process had gone faster. The staff to date is a mixture of college and NFL coaches, young and old.
"I explained in my interview that I've made some mistakes in those 11 years being a head football coach (at Rutgers), and I've learned a lot, and one of those mistakes was the first time as a head coach I felt like I had to get the staff hired, had to do it quickly," Schiano said. "Not the way to go."
Schiano knows the transition from college head coach to the NFL can be tough to navigate — he came to the Bucs from Rutgers — so he has hired someone who attempted it: Butch Davis. Schiano served as the Miami Hurricanes' defensive coordinator for two seasons under Davis, the UM head coach from 1995-2000 who left to become head coach of the Browns.
Davis' title with the Bucs is assistant to the head coach.
At what Schiano calls the leadership positions, he sought NFL experience. Jimmy Raye, who has coached 33 years in the NFL with 12 teams, was hired as senior offensive assistant. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who spent the past two years mentoring Eli Manning as Giants quarterbacks coach, convinced New York coach Tom Coughlin to let him interview with Tampa Bay.
"The decision was based on the fact that he desperately wanted the opportunity to go forth," Coughlin said. "He has a lot of ability. He's very smart, he's very innovative, very good with the technology. He'll get out in front of whatever the issues are."
Schiano had no connection with Bill Sheridan until he hired him as defensive coordinator, but he discovered they share a philosophy of how defense should be taught. "He's an all-business guy who is about getting the job done," Schiano said of Sheridan, fired after one season as Giants defensive coordinator in 2009.
Former Raiders assistant Bob Ligashesky will coach special teams. Randy Melvin, who coached the Patriots defensive line during their Super Bowl-winning season in 2001, will have the same job with the Bucs.
Schiano brought a handful of coaches from Rutgers: linebackers coach Bob Fraser, receivers coach P.J. Fleck, assistant defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, tight ends coach Brian Angelicho and defensive quality control coach Tem Lukabu.
Offensive line coach Bob Bostad spent the past six seasons in the same job at Wisconsin. Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper out of LSU coached cornerback Morris Claiborne, ranked the fourth-best player in the draft. The Bucs have the fifth pick.
Schiano even filled a couple of spots with former NFL players. Former linebacker Bryan Cox is in charge of the front seven, and former running back Earnest Byner coaches his old position.
"So it's taken longer than maybe I would have liked, but we were going to make sure that the guys we hired were the right fit," Schiano said.
Schiano buyout: The Bucs have paid Rutgers a $500,000 buyout for luring Schiano away last month, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. Schiano, who had five years left on a contract that paid him approximately $2.3 million annually, left after 11 seasons. He had 30 days to pay the buyout to the school. He still owes Rutgers $300,000 as part of an $800,000 interest-free home loan the school provided him after the 2006 season, with $100,000 of the loan forgiven each year he remained on the job, the newspaper reported.