TAMPA — One of 32.
That's all you need to know if you're wondering how appealing the Bucs head coaching job wofuld be if it comes open.
There would be a line to fill the opening.
Dirk Koetter would be at the head of it, trying to hold on.
The Bucs have been in a tailspin for 11 seasons. You'd think that by now this place would be radioactive, that no one would touch this place with a 10-foot whistle.
You'd be wrong.
Everyone should want this job, from the man who currently clings to it to anyone else out there, big names and small names, any names you can think of and some that you can't. Yes, as much as the Glazers have driven this franchise into the ground, they have one thing going for them in any job search.
One of 32.
There are only 32 NFL head coaching jobs in the world. It's one of the most select clubs in sports. Coaches would crawl over broken bodies to get at one, as Koetter did after Lovie Smith got it in the back. It's the show. It's the stage. There's nothing like it.
I always hear the same thing when NFL coaching jobs come open.
"Who would they get, anyway?"
I did a little research. In the history of the NFL, pretty much 100 percent of coaching vacancies get filled.
Someone always wants the job. Someone always takes the job. And the pay isn't bad, either.
As an added bonus, most coaches are off their rockers. They see themselves as the solution. They see a mountain and think they can climb it. That's how they got this far in the first place. All coaches think they'll be the ones. I'm sure Koetter did when he took over. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was a special teams coach once before he won a Super Bowl, and maybe he'll be one again if the Bucs beat the Ravens on Sunday. And then Harbaugh will want the Bucs job (Bet Harbaugh wins Sunday).
But who wouldn't want this job?
Here in Tampa, you have a quarterback, one who has led a checkered life on and off the field, but he was the No. 1 pick in the draft a few years back. I bet I know what any coaching prospect would say:
I'll turn him.
Isn't that how Koetter ended up as head coach here?
Isn't that why Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken would be a candidate if there is an opening?
Think former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't see a chance to make a quarterback and at the same time thumb his nose at Aaron Rodgers? Think Ron Rivera, if he gets canned at Carolina, wouldn't think he has another Cam and that all the Bucs need is a few tweaks on defense and away they go?
They're coaches. They all think they can make it happen.
If I was a coach, I'd be salivating over a receiver like Mike Evans. I'd love Chris Godwin and the prospect of a healthy return of O.J. Howard? So, you'd have to find a running game, unlike Koetter and Bucs GM Jason Licht. I'd take my half an offensive line and go from there.
Even with the late rally under our new favorite handy man, Mark Duffner, this defense is a mess. But there are pieces, on the line, at linebacker and there's always the thrift store for more defensive backs.
I know what any coach would say, whether he believes it or not:
We're a lot closer than you think.
Maybe Koetter and the Bucs finish 8-8 and save the day. I wouldn't count on it.
But I would count out anyone who thinks there won't be anyone out there to be the next head coach if Koetter isn't. There are always coaches to be the next coach. That's this league.
One of 32.
It's getting the right one, or sticking with him, that matters.
Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or 813-731-8029