First things first.
Who's calling Saban?
It might be that time of year.
The Glazers are on the clock.
I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who don't want to Bucs to replace head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht, Koetter and Licht undoubtedly chief among them. But there are plenty of other good people out there. It's just that a lot of us don' trust Bucs ownership to find them.
The Glazers have been going around in circles forever.
Where have they gone right since dismissing Jon Gruden after the 2009 season?
Coaches have been axed. GMs have vanished.
The Glazers are the one constant, and constant is 55-102 since the start of the 2009 season.
Breaking news: Owners rarely fire themselves. Especially owners whose father paid $192 million for a team that is now estimated to be worth nearly $2 billion.
The Glazers were a vast improvement over the previous owner, who moonlighted as a gargoyle. There is a Lombardi Trophy at Bucs headquarters for the 2002 magic carpet ride. It really happened. Then again, it really happened 16 years ago.
A football team has lost its football town.
Not that the Malcolm's kids haven't tried to win, because they almost always have. It's part of the unwritten social contract between a team and town, and the Glazers have mostly obeyed it. That's what makes this 11-year playoff drought so spectacularly hapless.
Malcolm Glazer, who passed away in 2014, hired Tony Dungy, then Jon Gruden. That was early Glazer genius. It has given way to dysfunction. The Glazer children are 0-4 at coaches and 0-3 at GMs since the Bucs last made the playoffs in 2007.
The Glazers briefly went on the cheap after Gruden, what with Man. U. on the books ledger. They hermetically sealed the family wallet and hired a discount coach from within: Raheem Morris. Morris ran the daycare. Only the daycare ended up running him.
About face. The Glazers went for toes on the line and Shawshank Greg Schiano, who oversaw law and order and Josh Freeman's disintegration, which took down Schiano with it.
About face. The Glazers brought back Lovie Smith, once a trusted Dungy lieutenant and Super Bowl coach on his own with the Bears. Auld Lang Lovie. Smith, a defense guy, agreed to build the offense, even tanking to make sure the 2-14 Bucs got the No. 1 pick and with it Jameis Winston. So, Lovie was fired for the defense.
About face. The Glazers turned to Dirk Koetter, quarterback whisperer. The Glazers were afraid Koetter would get a head coaching job. Badly played. What a terrible reason to hire someone.
So, here we sit.
Throw in Bruce Allen, Gruden's Darth Vader GM, and Mark Dominik and Jason Licht, a couple of galoots whose five-year records are nearly interchangeable, a nauseating coincidence.
The owners are the constant.
It's on them.
And now they might be about to take another swing.
A few suggestions.
No star gazing. What big name haven't the Glazers fallen in love with over the years? They wanted Bill Parcells. They wanted Mike Shanahan. They wanted Steve Spurrier. They wanted Chip Kelly. They might want Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley, the next big thing. Let me head one name off name at the pass: Urban gets these headaches. Try to find the next Sean McVay or hire someone to find him. But settle for a professional coach with a vision and the ability to stick with him, provided the Glazers do the same.
Forget the fannies. Bucs attendance is a major issue, the optics are awful, but it's about the winning. No one comes to watch a coach at work. Don't become fixated on bells, whistles and drum beaters.
Decide as a family. Have a big meeting. Make it on a Thursday. Then tell Ed that it's on Friday.
Under no circumstances pay attention to letters of reference from Bill Belichick. The Patriots coach has used the Bucs as his personal waste dump. He recommended Greg Schiano. And Belichick was New England headmaster as a young Jason Licht cut his teeth. With cream, two sugars. Ah, the Belichick seal of approval. That said, beware of Josh McDaniels, Colts teaser.
Hire the GM first. Rich McKay was already aboard as Bucs GM when the Bucs hired Gruden. McKay and Gruden had a thorny relationship, but no coach-GM tandem has worked better for the Bucs. Go back to that. But be wary. Dominik broke out the long knives to do in Morris. Lovie was hired before Licht, but Licht undercut Lovie and will try to outlast Koetter. No more of that. Still, hire the GM first, in the name of long term.
Consult. Talk to Dungy. Talk to retired team builders, like Hall of Famer Bill Polian. Hold a weekend retreat. Talk to everybody. Just don't enlist Michael Cohen as your fixer.
How someone gets along with Jameis Winston should NOT matter. You're hiring a coach, not a babysitter.
Pick one direction. I'm not saying swallow a Pittsburgh Steelers pill, but find a plan and keep the plan.
If Saban's number doesn't work try Tuscaloosa information.
It might be Glazer time again.
Under your bed is a good place to hide.
Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or 813-731-8029