The Bucs don't appear to be wasting any time in their search for Greg Schiano's replacement, contacting former Bears coach and Bucs assistant Lovie Smith, widely considered to be the front runner for the job.
Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were both fired Monday, forcing the Glazer family, the team owners, to embark on their third coaching search in less than five years.
It appears that Smith will be at or near the top of their candidate list.
Smith, 55, was linebackers coach under Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000 before spending nine seasons as the Bears head coach (2004-2012). He racked up four 10-win seasons in Chicago, including reaching the Super Bowl in 2006, where he lost to Dungy's Colts.
He was fired after going 10-6 in 2012 and spent last year out of football.
Smith is likely to receive calls from several teams — he reportedly already interviewed for the Houston Texans job, although current Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is reportedly close to signing a deal there.
Even so, Smith is believed to have interest in a return to Tampa Bay.
There has even been speculation about who Smith might add to his staff, with multiple outlets reporting Smith has lined up former Cal coach Jeff Tedford as offensive coordinator. Tedford coached six quarterbacks at Fresno State, Oregon and Cal that became first-round NFL draft picks — Trent Dilfer and Aaron Rodgers (who both went on to win Super Bowls), Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, David Carr, and Kyle Boller.
Smith, however, is unlikely to be the only candidate the team will consider. Here are some others being mentioned:
Bill O'Brien, Penn State head coach: The 44-year-old spent five seasons under Bill Belichick from 2007-11 and has been head coach at Penn State. He's been strongly linked to the Texans' opening and is widely expected to leave the Nittany Lions to return to the NFL.
Ken Whisenhunt, Chargers offensive coordinator: Whisenhunt coached the Cardinals from 2007-2012, leading the fledgling franchise to the Super Bowl and two playoff appearances. The 51-year-old was also the offensive coordinator for the Steelers during their Super Bowl season in 2005. Has been linked to the Browns opening.
Mike Zimmer, Bengals defensive coordinator: Zimmer, 55, is a hot name, with his Bengals once again one of the top defenses. He's reportedly already interviewed for five head coaching jobs in his career, including with the Bucs two years ago. No head coaching experience, but also was defensive coordinator for Falcons (2007) and Cowboys (2000-2006).
Gary Kubiak, former Texans coach: An 11-game losing streak cost Kubiak his job this year, fired with three games left in his eighth season in Houston. Kubiak led the Texans to their first two playoff berths, amassing a 61-64 record overall. Kubiak also won two Super Bowls as an offensive coordinator under Mike Shanahan in Denver.
Rob Chudzinski, former Browns coach: Fired by the Browns Monday after just one season (4-12), Chudzinski was interviewed by the Bucs two years ago for the head coach opening. Chudzinski, a former Hurricane assistant, has been the offensive coordinator in Cleveland and, more recently, with the Panthers (2011-12).
Mike Shanahan, former Broncos and Redskins coach: Fired Monday from the Redskins, Shanahan, 61, is still a two-time Super Bowl winning coach, with his offensive background intriguing. Would likely come at a hefty price tag.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M coach: Sumlin, 49, is a rising name in the college ranks, going 19-6 in two seasons with Texas A&M. Might be hard to be lured away as he was given a six-year contract extension in November worth $5 million a year. Is 54-23 as college head coach, 3-1 in bowl games.
David Shaw, Stanford coach: Has done impressive job taking over for Jim Harbaugh, with the former Stanford offensive coordinator leading the Cardinal to back-to-back Pac-12 championships and a 34-6 overall record in three seasons. Shaw, 41, told Sports Illustrated Monday he "has no desire to pursue another job," but that doesn't mean NFL teams won't come calling.