TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer has gone back underground. Like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, he emerged just long enough Monday to announce the firings of general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano, then quickly disappeared.
As a result, Bucs fans have been left to wonder what approach the Glazer family that owns the team will take in finding the franchise’s seventh general manager and 10th head coach, third in the past five years.
Will the general manager be hired first and then be tasked with hiring the new coach? Or will the coach come first and the general manager second? And what about the general manager’s duties?
Will he be a talent evaluator whose job is to build the team and oversee player development, or will he be a numbers cruncher whose primary task is to manage the salary cap and maintain financial flexibility?
The Bucs aren’t saying right now, but given that they are one of six teams involved in a gold rush for the best possible head coach, the new field general might be the vacancy they fill first.
There are already reports saying the Bucs have plans to interview former Bears head coach Lovie Smith and former Texans coach Gary Kubiak for the head coach’s job.
But who will interview them and compile the list of other candidates? The Glazers have usually left that job to their general manager, but only a couple of potential candidates — former Bucs executive and Seattle Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell and former Bucs executive and Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo — have surfaced and, as of Tuesday, neither had been contacted by anyone representing the Glazers or the Bucs.
It’s possible the Glazers are planning to interview the coaching candidates themselves, and while that would be a new approach, it would not be the first time they took matters into their own hands.
In 2001, after then-general manager Rich McKay went through the vetting process and recommended Marvin Lewis as the replacement for Tony Dungy, the Glazers stepped in and worked a trade with the Raiders for Jon Gruden.
In 2009, the Glazers replaced Gruden and then-general manager Bruce Allen within hours of their firing by promoting from within and making Raheem Morris head coach and Dominik general manager.
History also suggests their final choice, at least for head coach, could come as a surprise to those following the NFL rumor mill. The Bucs typically have interviewed several candidates whose names quickly become known publicly, only to hire a candidate few considered or even knew was available.
Certainly, that was the case with Gruden and Schiano.
Of course, both times, the Bucs also missed on their first choice. They thought they had Bill Parcells wrapped up in 2001 and then-Oregon coach Chip Kelly in the fold in 2011, but both backed out.
Those might be the best reasons it’s still too soon to get worked up about the projected return of Smith, who took the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl against Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts in 2006.
Smith has already interviewed with the Houston Texans for their head coach’s job, and any one of the other four teams in the hunt for a new coach — Washington, Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota — might want to talk to him, too.
In other words, he has options.
But Smith also has ties to Tampa. He was the Bucs’ linebackers coach under Dungy from 1996-2000, then spent two years as the Rams defensive coordinator before taking over the Bears in 2004.
He also has a winning record. Including the playoffs, where he was 3-3 with the loss to the Colts in the Super Bowl, he was 84-66 during his nine years as the Bears head coach, including 10-6 in his last year, 2012.
The Bucs, after failing to get the results they sought from defensive-oriented coaches Morris and Schiano, could look this time to hire an offensive-oriented coach such as Gruden.
Clearly, that was their first option two years ago, when Kelly turned them down and opted to stay at Oregon for another year before taking an NFL job with the Eagles this season. And, perhaps, that is why Kubiak’s name is also being linked to the Bucs.
The backup quarterback to John Elway in Denver throughout his nine-year playing career, Kubiak spent 11 years as the Broncos offensive coordinator before taking over the Texans.
But four of his first five Texans teams finished 8-8 or worse. After a 22-10 run that included two AFC South titles in 2011-12, Kubiak’s team won just two of its first 13 games this year, leading to his dismissal.