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How Cubs manager Joe Maddon helped recruit Bruce Arians to the Bucs

Maddon and Arians grew up about 100 miles apart in Pennsylvania. A dinner at Maddon's south Tampa restaurant helped talk Arians out of retirement.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon, with wife Jaye, during today's Thanksmas event at the St. Vincent de Paul center in St. Petersburg. {SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Jan. 9
Updated Jan. 9

TAMPA — Bruce Arians needed some convincing.

At 66, the retired former Cardinals head coach was interested in interviewing for the Bucs job. His trip to Tampa on Friday night, however,  became a recruiting.

That's when the Bucs got an assist from Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Arians and Maddon grew up about 100 miles apart in eastern Pennsylvania. Arians is from York and Maddon from Hazelton.

They hit it off when introduced about four years ago by Bucs general manager Jason Licht during the Cubs spring training in Mesa, Ariz., just outside Phoenix, when Arians was coach of the Cardinals.

Both are charismatic and stylish men, successful well into their 60s. Both took a long time to reach their respective goal of becoming a manager and head coach. And both Arians and Maddon like to think a little out of the box.

So Licht enlisted to the help of Maddon, the former Rays manager who lives  in Tampa in the offseason and is co-owner of Ava, a  trendy south Tampa Italian restaurant.

With Maddon's assistance, the Bucs sneaked Arians in through the kitchen of the restaurant and into a private, hideaway dining room.

Maddon helped sell Arians on living in Tampa Bay and apparently he liked the area.

On Saturday, Arians underwent a physical and crushed the interview with the Glazers.

On Tuesday, the Bucs reached an agreement on a four-year contract  with a fifth-year option to coach the Bucs.

Contact Rick Stroud at Follow @NFLStroud