Bucs struggling to fill coordinator positions

As searches for coordinators go, this is as about as

uncoordinated as it gets.

While other NFL teams have scooped up experienced personnel to direct their

offenses and defenses in recent weeks, the Tampa Bay Bucs continue to wobble

along a most perplexing path – one marked by rejections, denied requests to

speak with currently employed coaches and a troubling lack of direction.

The latest word is they’ve hired Jimmy Raye as a senior offensive assistant for

new head coach Greg Schiano.

The first question: Why do they need one?

The second: Why do they need Raye?

Dust off your Bucs history books, folks. He’s a direct link to arguably the

most laughable era of the franchise, the 4-28 Leeman Bennett Regime, during

which Raye served as the offensive coordinator.

Raye is a distinguished college quarterback who played for Michigan State in

the famous 10-10 tie against Notre Dame in 1966. But his results working with

NFL offenses has not been particularly spectacular, with many of his units

winding up ranked in the mid-to-low 20s.

Raye spent 1985 and 1986 overseeing the offense of the hapless Bennett Bucs,

which finished 23rd his first season and 27th (out of 28 teams) his second.

Unfortunately for Raye, his greatest notoriety came from being struck by a car

while jogging near team headquarters in ’85 — an event that seemed to sum up the

dismal state of affairs during that period in team history.

So, no doubt, people are wondering why would the Bucs braintrust in any way,

shape or form want to break open a crypt to the ghastly Leeman years?

What kind of message are the Glazers sending to fans looking for a reason to

get excited about the team again? Do they care?

Maybe they can coax Bennett out of retirement to oversee the overseers while

they’re at it.

And that’s correct, there’s more than one overseer in the current mix. The Bucs

have reportedly hired Butch Davis, not as defensive coordinator, as originally

believed, but as senior defensive assistant.

It’s wonderful that they continue to create and fill jobs for Schiano’s staff,

but none of them address the pressing need to get the best guys available at

the indispensable coordinator positions.

Bringing aboard Raye and Davis only gives the impression that the Glazer family

and general manager Mark Dominik think that Schiano needs to have his hands

held as he makes the transition from Rutgers to the NFL. If they were so sure

he was the right man, why would he need that support?

Davis brings a credible resume to the table — a record of 51-20 as head coach

at the University of Miami (where Schiano worked as defensive coordinator in

1999-2000), two Super Bowl rings — in 1993 and ’94 — as defensive coordinator

of the Dallas Cowboys, a 24-35 stint as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and,

most recently, a 28-23 record as head coach at North Carolina.

He was dismissed in July with the program awash in NCAA violations, though

Davis himself was not implicated.

But if Davis is so valuable, and Schiano apparently wants him aboard so much,

why not just make him defensive coordinator?

The answer, it appears, is that Davis would forfeit his buyout money of some

$2.7-million by taking another coach position.

C’mon. If the Glazers really think he’s the right guy to assist their fledging

NFL head coach, shouldn’t they just pony up with the remaining money of the

buyout (he’s reportedly received some $933,000 to date) and name him defensive

coordinator outright?

This senior adviser tack they’re taking looks clunky at best and it diminishes

Schiano in stature before he’s even taken the field. You don’t see other NFL

teams hot on the trail of senior advisers. Then again, this seems to be the one

area in which the Bucs are having any real success.

So far, they’ve been turned down at defensive coordinator by John Quinn of the

University of Florida and had the door shut on their requests to speak with

Arizona wide receiver coach John McNulty and Green Bay tight ends coach Ben

McAdoo about the offensive coordinator job.

Word emerged Monday that the Bucs were talking to NFL offensive coordinator Ron

Turner, who did some good work in two coordinator stints with the Bears, and

University of Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. By Wednesday, Lazor

was no longer a candidate. It’s not known whether he was ruled out — or

followed Quinn’s lead and pulled out. Nor is it known if Turner is still under

consideration, though you’d hope he would be with his level of experience.

Now they’re talking to North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop, former

Bucs quarterback coach from 2004 under Jon Gruden. Shoop has worked on a

handful of NFL staffs, most recently in 2005-06 under then-Oakland Raiders coach

Art Shell as quarterbacks and tight ends coach. Shoop lost his job after the

Raiders finished 2-14 in ’06 and Shell and his staff were shown the door.

So far, the search for assistants has been convoluted and hardly one that would

inspire confidence and enthusiasm in the fan base. What’s more, Schiano hasn’t

helped himself by keeping such a low public profile since being named as Raheem

Morris’ successor.

There could be another consequence of such a protracted process. Which team

would a talented free agent rather play for: a 4-12 Tampa Bay team that can’t

seem to get its act together in assembling a coaching staff — or a team with

solid staff and reasonable prospects for winning in the near future?

It would be ironic indeed if this season the Glazers and Dominik reverse course

and announce their intentions to spend money on free agency in 2012, but nobody

bites.

Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. Other teams in transition continue to move

forward with experienced staffs in place for weeks. Glazer’s pronouncement at

the Jan. 2 news conference to fire Morris — that “we are going to spend

whatever it takes to win” — has taken on a new meaning.

Clearly, he wasn’t taking about money.

He must have been talking about time.