1. Archive

The Bucs need to make big changes, and soon

Kudos for your concern, common sense, class and courage to invite us commoners to send constructive suggestions for making the Tampa Bay Bucs a better football team that can deliver pride rather than embarrassment to our image-craving area.

Now the question becomes, Hubert, will Steve Story respond with actions that save the pitiful entity the Bucs became after their late owner, Hugh Culverhouse, shooed away Doug Williams as quarterback in 1983 and arrogantly refused to consider a very available Steve Spurrier as coach in 1986?

Tampa Bay deserves not only to keep its NFL franchise, we deserve a proud and entertaining product. Sam Wyche, Bucco Bruce and others must go. You're right, Hubert, that only an earthshaking choice as head coach _ Jimmy Johnson being the obvious thought _ will create immediate gate impact.

Status quo will be deadly. The Bucs' crowds that have dwindled to 35,000, totally on merit, will regress to sub-25,000 next season. Now is the obvious time, Steve Story, to sell the Bucs to willing local ownership with the appropriate attitude to bring us hope, prosperity and pride.

We the people of Tampa Bay deserve far better than 30 percent success. Trent Dilfer says he plays for himself, not for the fans. Somebody should tell our promising rookie QB that the Bucs organization had better worry about us. I am very tired of my face being red from embarrassment rather than from happy excitement at Tampa Stadium.

Wanda Keene Bracewell, Tampa

Copies of many Steve Story-bound letters, to the spokesman for the Culverhouse Trust, and in response to my State of the Bucs column, are arriving by mail, fax and overnight express. Every one I've read has been fair, loaded with concern and articulately expressed. Steve Story is a good, professional gentleman. He will listen. Hopefully there will be positive Trust actions, before it's too late.

It's difficult to determine which of the three _ the Times, Mizell or (Gary) Shelton, and it's probably the latter _ is more responsible in attempting to chase the Bucs out of town. I have never seen, in any newspaper, in any NFL town, the lack of coverage and, when anything is written, the negativism.

I was in Cincinnati last week and, despite the (Bengals') terrible record, the Cincinnati Enquirer carried several articles each day, encouraging the club and its fans. If you want a baseball team and if you want to keep the Bucs, you'd better begin to write positively. You're doing your best to destroy what we have and prevent us from getting baseball.

Al L. Meyer, Hudson

Huh? Did I miss something, Al? Did the Bucs suddenly U-turn to pro football greatness? It's not my job, nor Gary's, nor any competent newspaper's, when we've been fed a skunk salad, to swallow hard and say, "Ummm, good!"

Never have public and media criticisms of Steve Spurrier been so loud. Nor so valid. His coaching arrogance cost the Florida Gators against Auburn. How can a man with such football brilliance behave so childishly at times? Spurrier's status as a Gator god was suddenly tinged with tarnish.

I'm a 35-season fan of the Gators. I love my school. Sure, I've done my share of griping, like all real fans. I became a Gator in 1960, the year Ray Graves took over as head coach. I cheered Spurrier as our 1966 Heisman Trophy quarterback. It disgusted me when Charley Pell's coaching era, after bringing us fame, covered us with the shame of NCAA probation.

But seldom have I been more distraught than driving home from Gainesville after losing to an admirable but inferior Auburn team for a second straight season.

Never before have I blamed Spurrier for a loss. But Steve seems to be changing; becoming more arrogant; losing his concentration more in games that really count.

You have, in recent years, written some wonderfully constructive advice for Steve. Try it again. This isn't the same Spurrier that I recall as a player, or as Tampa Bay Bandits coach, or even from his Duke days. Steve needs to accept that other coaches also have some smarts. His strength as a competitor is diminished when Orr (Spurrier's middle name) shows a lack of respect for Gator opponents, if not for our own quarterbacks.

Dennis Lowe, Orlando

No need for me to do another editorial on Spurrier's personality. You've just handled it quite well.