Bruce Arians hire gives Stephen A. Smith ’cause to pause’

The ESPN personality said on First Take that he wouldn't hire a coach who earlier said his preferred destination was elsewhere.
ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith talks about the Bruce Arians hire on First Take. [Photo from video/ESPN]
ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith talks about the Bruce Arians hire on First Take. [Photo from video/ESPN]
Published January 9

Does Bruce Arians really want to be in Tampa Bay?

Stephen A. Smith isn't convinced, which is why the ESPN personality said Wednesday on First Take that the Bucs' head-coaching hire gives him "cause to pause."

Less than two months before taking the job with the Bucs, Arians— who retired as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals following the 2017 season — publicly said the Cleveland Browns job was the only one he'd come out of retirement for.

"I'm not hiring a coach that goes out front and center and says the only job I want is Cleveland," Smith said. "And then I'm Tampa and I've got to go recruit a friend who's a manager for the Chicago Cubs in Joe Maddon to talk you into taking this job. I'm not down with that.

"In other words, I need to know that you want to be here. I'm not going to sit up here and excoriate it. I'm not gonna say it's bad, because I know Arians can coach. I know he knows the NFL. I know he knows football. I know he's relatable for some reason to the modern-day player. But, again, those things give me cause for pause."

Arians in November said the season he spent calling games for CBS renewed his interest in the Browns, and he had no interest in any other job possibilities.

"I've always wanted that job," Arians said, "and I got passed over for it a couple of times, and it would be the only job I would listen to and come out of retirement for.

"I really enjoy what I'm doing, but there has always been something about Cleveland and the fans, and when I called the games this year that really came back for me."

The Browns reportedly will hire interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens as their head coach.

While acknowledging that Arians will be a "welcome addition" to quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense, Smith expressed concerned about the other side of the ball.

"I'm not gonna sit up here and knock it down and say it was a bad hire by any stretch, because I think he's qualified and deserves to be a head coach in this game," Smith said. "But I'm not sure it's a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination for Tampa."