Bucs May Have Their New Coach: Lovie Smith
It apparently didn't take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers long to find their new head coach, as they've reportedly struck a deal with Lovie Smith.
Multiple media outlets report that the Bucs interviewed Smith Tuesday, a day after they fired Greg Schiano. The team reportedly offered Smith a four-year deal worth in excess of five million dollars per season. The deal also has a team option for a fifth year.
Smith apparently agreed in principle Wednesday night, and the two sides were in the process of finalizing the deal. A formal announcement of the hiring could come as early as today.
The 55-year-old Smith was apparently the Bucs' first choice. He would become the team's third coach in six seasons and the 10th in franchise history.
He began his NFL coaching career in Tampa as a linebackers coach from 1996 to 2000. After a tenure with the St. Louis Rams, Smith was named head coach for the Chicago Bears in 2004.
He posted an 81-and-63 record in nine seasons with the Bears, taking them to the playoffs three times, including to Super Bowl XLI in 2007. They lost that game to the Indianapolis Colts, who were led by Smith's former boss with the Buccaneers, Tony Dungy.
Dungy was among those weighing in on Smith's apparent hiring, telling The Tampa Tribune late Wednesday night:
“He knows how to win in this league and he knows the lay of the land here. So, it's a great choice because they have a very good defensive foundation here already, and he's going to help get that going. I know that more than anything these guys they have here are going to love playing for him and he'll get that team chemistry built and get them going in the right direction.''
The Buccaneers are still looking for a general manager to replace Mark Dominik, who was also fired Monday. Leading candidates reportedly include Jerry Angelo and Chris Ballard.
Angelo was the Bucs' director of player personnel from 1988 to 2000 before serving for 10 years as general manager of the Chicago Bears, where he hired Smith to be his head coach. Ballard, a long-time friend of Smith's, is currently the director of player personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs.