Bruce Arians realized he missed coaching as early as the production meeting before the Browns-Steelers season opener, his first as an analyst for CBS Sports.
He missed the players, and he longed for the locker room.
The feeling grew stronger as the 2018 season progressed.
"By week 8, I was at practice," Arians tells Arizona Republic sports columnist Kent Somers in a video interview on azcentral.com. "A defensive back messed up and I went to correct him, and I went, 'Whoops, this isn't my team.'"
Arians, who seemed to close a 40-plus-year coaching career — including 25 in the NFL — when he retired as head coach of the Cardinals in January 2018, wasn't sure a job would open that he would want. He said no to a couple. And then the Bucs called.
"The stars just kind of aligned," Arians says.
He knew the Glazer family and had worked with general manager Jason Licht in Arizona. Tampa was closer to his daughter and grandson, in Alabama. And his entire Cardinals coaching staff was available.
"It was like, 'You're supposed to do this,'" Arians says. "It was like a sign. 'You have to do this.'"
Among the former assistants who will re-join Arians in Tampa is offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Arians will turn over play-calling duties to the former Bucs, Jaguars, Steelers and Falcons quarterback.
Arians says he will be on the headset but has trained Leftwich and assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin to call plays and has complete trust in them.
"I always said I would never hand it over if I had to look over somebody's shoulder and second-guess them," Arians says, "and I know I don't have to second-guess."
He's also creating opportunities.
Looking back at Arians' time with the Cardinals, Somers says, it could be difficult for an assistant coach to be considered for a head-coaching job because Arians called the plays.
That's missing the point, Arians says.
"You're not hiring an offensive coordinator; you're hiring a leader of men," he says. "I'm looking at all of the hires this year, and guys are going to be calling plays for the first time and be a head coach.
"There's only one (Rams head coach) Sean McVay. Let's get that (out of the way). I love Sean, and I really respect Sean, but there's only one Sean. To think you're going to get another Sean McVay, it's one in a million. Hire a leader of men."