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Bucs' Schiano: Don't read into hiring of LSU assistant

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:30 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -

Speculation began almost as soon as the hiring was announced.

With former LSU secondary coach Ron Cooper taking over the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it would be natural for the Bucs to spend their first round draft pick this year on LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, right?

Not so fast, Bucs coach Greg Schiano said.

"Somebody said to me that's the only reason we hired him,'' Schiano said. "I said, 'Yeah, we would do that; we would jeopardize the entire football team for that.' No.''

The reunion could still come about, of course. The Bucs are in need of help at cornerback and Claiborne is expected to be available when Tampa Bay makes the fifth overall pick.

"We will have some inside info (on Claiborne),'' Schiano said. "But that's not why we hired Ron. Ron is an exceptional secondary coach. He's an excellent coach, obviously, by the way (his) guys (at LSU) have performed.''

Cooper helped the Tigers produce back-to-back Jim Thorpe award winners in Claiborne and Patrick Peterson, who helped LSU's overall defense improve to be among the best in the nation.

A unit that ranked 73rd in total defense before Cooper's arrival jumped to 29th in 2009, 10th in 2010 and eighth in 2011.

"People love to say he had great players,'' Schiano said. "Well, yeah. They weren't great players when they walked in the door, they were great talents. (Cooper taught) them how to play disciplined secondary.

"To me, if you're going to be an aggressive defense, sometimes the ball will come popping out of there. So, you need to have secondary guys who understand (how to) trap that mouse and get his rear end on the ground.''

Cooper is coming to the NFL after a college coaching career that started in 1983 and included a stop at the University of South Carolina, where he worked for Lou Holtz.

"Ron and I talked about it, there's no one tougher to coach the secondary for than Lou Holtz,'' said Schiano, who spent 15 years coaching defensive backs in college before taking over as Rutgers head coach in 2001. "We laughed about it actually.''


rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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