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Possible Bucs candidates include Bruce Arians, Jim Caldwell, Harbaughs

Here's an early look at some possible candidates for the Bucs head coaching job, vacated Sunday when Tampa Bay fired Dirk Koetter.
Former Arizona coach Bruce Arians could be a candidate for the Bucs head coaching job. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Former Arizona coach Bruce Arians could be a candidate for the Bucs head coaching job. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Published Dec. 31, 2018

TAMPA — After firing Dirk Koetter Sunday night hours after the season concluded, the Bucs will conduct a head coaching search that will be headed by general manager Jason Licht. The new Bucs coach will be the team's fifth since firing Jon Gruden following the 2008 season, and the third after five years on the job.

In the past, the Glazer family has tried to reel in big names to Tampa Bay, whether it be Bill Parcells or Gruden or Chip Kelly, but they don't often nab their first target. Here are some first-glance possible candidates to fill the Bucs' head coaching vacancy.

Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians

Arians was 49-30 in five seasons in the desert, a stint that included two playoff appearances and a trip to the NFL title game in 2015. He retired in from coaching after last season and did TV work this season, but he worked with Licht in Arizona so there's a natural connection here.

Former Colts/Lions coach Jim Caldwell

He has a bevy of experience, and has Tampa Bay ties. He was the Bucs quarterbacks coach under Tony Dungy and followed him to Indianapolis and eventually succeeding him as head coach. He has a 62-50 career record and has four playoff appearances in seven years as head coach.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh

: There have been no reports of the Glazers landing in Ann Arbor to talk to Harbaugh, but this would count as the big game hunting mentioned above. Harbaugh has done little to quell speculation of a potential return to the NFL, and every year there seems to be enough interest that his name keeps getting mentioned

Ravens coach John Harbaugh

Even though the Ravens just won the AFC North and have said they intend to work out an extension with Harbaugh, there was a report Sunday that at least one team plans to ask the Ravens about Harbaugh, who has one year left on his deal. If there's one team who knows how to maneuver a trade for a coach, it's the Bucs, who sent a bounty of draft picks and cash to Oakland for Gruden.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley

The Oklahoma head coach said this week that he has no NFL ambitions, but it won't stop teams from asking. He has developed back-to-back Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, so it's intriguing to see whether he could get Jameis Winston to raise his game.

Other names to watch

Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, former Colts coach Chuck Pagano, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, former Vikings offensive coordinator John DiFilippo, Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, former University of Georgia and Miami coach Mark Richt.

Times staff writer Thomas Bassinger contributed to this report.