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Who will be the next Bucs head coach?

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 frontrunner for the job.

Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were fired Monday, forcing the Glazer family, the team owners, to embark on their third coaching search in less than five years.

It appears 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 (2004-12). He racked up four 10-win seasons in Chicago and reached the Super Bowl in the 2006 season, when 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, though 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 been speculation about who Smith might add to his staff, with multiple outlets reporting Smith has lined up former California coach Jeff Tedford as offensive coordinator. Tedford coached six quarterbacks at Fresno State, Oregon and Cal who 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.

The team likely will consider other candidates too. Here are some others being mentioned:

Bill O'Brien,

Penn State 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 2007-12, leading the 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 winning season in 2005. He has also 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 reportedly had interviewed for five head coaching jobs in his career, including with the Bucs two years ago. He has no head coaching experience, but also was defensive coordinator for Falcons (2007) and Cowboys (2000-06).

Gary Kubiak

Former Texans coach: An 11-game losing streak cost Kubiak his job this year, as he was fired with three games left in his eighth season in Houston. Kubiak, 52, 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 on Monday after one season (4-12), Chudzinski was interviewed by the Bucs two years ago for the head coach opening. Chudzinski, 45, a former Miami Hurricanes 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 by the Redskins, Shanahan, 61, is a two-time Super Bowl winning coach with the Broncos and has an intriguing offensive background. 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 the Aggies. Might be hard to lure him as he was given a six-year contract extension in November worth $5 million a year. Is 54-23 as college coach, 3-1 in bowl games.

David Shaw

Stanford coach: Has done an 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 on Monday he "has no desire to pursue another job," but that doesn't mean NFL teams won't come calling.

1 Ken

Whisenhunt

An innovative playcaller who helped build the Cardinals into a Super Bowl runnerup, he could be the needed spark for the offense.

2 David Shaw

Not likely to bolt, but his Stanford teams play with the same physical, disciplined style as those of his predecessor, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

3 RoB

Chudzinski

Not given much of a chance in Cleveland, the Bucs saw his success up close as Carolina's offensive coordinator.

4 Mike Zimmer

With all of the pieces the Bucs defense has, the Bengals defensive coordinator could take it to the next level.

5 Lovie Smith

The front-runner has ties to the Bucs' better days, can bring an impressive staff and has led a team (the Bears) to the Super Bowl.

6 Gary Kubiak

A West Coast offense coach with experience managing quarterbacks, he can aid MIke Glennon (or whomever the Bucs bring in).

7 Kevin Sumlin

Texas A&M's coach has experience managing egos — see Manziel, Johnny — plus a track record of success at the college level.

8 Mike

Shanahan

His messy end in Washington, D.C. aside, Shanahan is the most accomplished candidate in the group.

9 Bill O'Brien

What he did through turmoil at Penn State plus his pedigree as Pats offensive coordinator could make him the steady hand the Bucs need.

Who will be the next Bucs head coach? 12/30/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 12:21am]
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