TAMPA — In what could be the first of several coaching-staff moves, longtime Bucs special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is heading to San Diego to assume the same role with the Chargers.
Bisaccia, an associate head coach in Tampa Bay, had been with the Bucs since the 2002 Super Bowl season, joining the team as a member of former coach Jon Gruden's original staff. He survived Gruden's firing in 2009 to field one of the league's best special teams units the past few seasons.
Bisaccia's contract with Tampa Bay was up after the season, and he had been expected to pursue other opportunities. It was not clear Tuesday what prompted him to take the San Diego job.
Chargers coach Norv Turner, whose special teams this season were among the league's worst, touted Bisaccia's success with Tampa Bay.
"Rich's special teams have had success in this league," he said. "He's been with Tampa Bay for nine years, and their teams have been consistently good to excellent. He helped them win a Super Bowl. Rich is a high-energy guy that I know will bring out the best in our players."
The Bucs allowed an average of 7.3 yards per punt return this season, seventh in the NFL. They were eighth in kick-return coverage, allowing an average 20.7 yards per attempt, and eighth in kick returns, averaging 24.3 yards.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to be part of a winning organization and work with Norv Turner," Bisaccia said. "There's a real opportunity here to win it all. I've worked with Jon Gruden, and now I have the opportunity to work with Norv. These are two of the best coaching minds in football. I'm really looking forward to it."
The Bucs said they will replace Bisaccia with assistant defensive backs coach Dwayne Stukes.
Stukes served as special teams quality control coach in 2008 and continued his involvement with special teams while coaching the secondary. The former Virginia player has been with the Bucs since 2006, when he joined the team as a coaches assistant.
"For the past five years, coach Stukes has aided in the preparation and development of young players," general manager Mark Dominik said. "He's ready for this opportunity."
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported the Bucs have offered the role of defensive line coach to Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, whose contract is expiring. Likewise, the contract of Bucs defensive line coach Todd Wash is expiring, and this news might signal his exit from Tampa Bay.
The Bucs have been hampered by an anemic pass rush, and intensifying pressure on quarterbacks is expected to be one of the themes of this offseason. The Bucs tied Jacksonville for 30th in the 32-team league in sacks with 26, ahead of Denver (23), which had the league's worst defense.
Dunbar's resume is impressive. He has been the Vikings' defensive line coach for the past four seasons. Dunbar, 43, also has spent time with the Bears, LSU and Oklahoma State, all of which were rich in defensive-line talent.
The Bucs avoided another vacancy when the University of Pittsburgh hired Tulsa coach Todd Graham and not Bucs quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt.
According to reports, Van Pelt spoke with the school's search committee last week and was seen as a viable candidate. He was one of the program's most decorated quarterbacks and demonstrated his ability to develop talent with quarterback Josh Freeman's progression this season.