Schiano struggling to fill vacant positions
Looks like another bad hear day for new Bucs head coach Greg
Schiano and GM Mark Dominik.
All they’ve been hearing is “Thanks, but no thanks.” The search for assistants
for Schiano’s staff hasn’t been going so well.
Last week, they were rebuffed right out of the starting blocks by the Arizona
Cardinals, who wouldn’t allow wide receivers coach John McNulty to interview
with his former Rutgers University boss for the Tampa Bay offensive coordinator
job. That apparently includes a secondary rejection of a special appeal Bucs
management planned to make directly to Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell. Ouch.
On Monday, the Bucs received word that University of Florida defensive
coordinator John Quinn passed when the same position was offered on Schiano’s
Ponder this for a moment: A college coordinator on a team that didn’t exactly
set the Southeastern Conference on fire with a record of 7-6 decided he’d
rather stay put than jump to the glamor of the NFL?
Ah, we forgot, there is nothing glamorous about the Bucs.
Honestly, how can you blame Quinn? His defense played well down the stretch and
there could well be more of a solid future in Gainesville, Fla., than on a
floundering pirate ship — regardless of the good leadership, strong discipline
and high standards Schiano brings to the job from his own college position.
The latest rejection Tuesday was of the NFL variety. According to NFL.com, the Green
Bay Packers refused to let the Bucs talk to tight ends coach Ben McAdoo. NFL
organizations only need to allow assistants to interview for head coaching
positions. If it’s simply a promotion to coordinator, the team can make the
call, and the Packers appear to want McAdoo around enough next season to block
The way things have been going, one can almost picture this scenario:
Packers GM Ted Thompson: “Hey Ben, Mark Dominik and Joel Glazer are calling
about the Bucs offensive coordinator job, you want me to transfer the call?”
McAdoo: “No, no, tell ’em I’m out, at lunch, on vacation — in Alaska. Better yet,
could you just say I’m not allowed to go? That’d be great. Appreciate it, Ted!”
OK, maybe it’s not that bad. But this is the real problem the Bucs face having
waited too long to hire their head coach, after weeks of fruitless
wheel-spinning in the name of thoroughness and subterfuge when transparency
would have sufficed just fine.
This is not a knock on Schiano. As universally acknowledged, he did a bang-up
job reviving a hopeless football program at Rutgers. The only potential
criticism — never winning the Big East — doesn’t seem nearly as important as
his 56-33 turnaround between 2005-2011 with a 5-1 Bowl record to boot.
The question is why did the Bucs braintrust wait to pursue him if it was so
undoubtedly impressed on the front end? That allowed other NFL teams with head coach
vacancies to beat the Bucs to the punch and scoop up the best available
candidates for support coaching roles.
In the process, the oddly prolonged Glazer search has shackled Schiano in his
own hunt for an experienced coaching staff — hardly an ideal situation this
late in the game.
There’s something else to consider. If you’re bent on hiring a college coach —
unless he’s an established icon with a national championship or some impressive
runs at it — wouldn’t you expect to encounter some problems hiring NFL
assistants? What seasoned NFL coordinator or position coach would do cartwheels
at the prospect of going to work for an impressive, yet untested, new NFL head
coach from the college ranks?
Especially for a team as putrid as the Bucs?
That’s a tough combination to overcome. It may be one reason NFL assistants
haven’t been lining up for a chance to come to Tampa.
The upshot is that Schiano may have to start recruiting from the college level
— including tapping his own former Scarlet Knights staff.
Word is that he may bring along four Rutgers assistants: Jeff Hafley (defensive
backs), Bob Fraser (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Brian Angelichio (tight
ends) and P.J. Fleck (receivers).
Another report surfacing Tuesday, according to FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez, is that
the Schiano is eyeing two possible candidates with NFL experience for offensive
coordinator: Ron Turner, the quarterback coach last season for the Colts and
formerly of the Bears, and Bill Lazor, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks
coach at Virginia with experience coaching QBs for the Redskins and Seahawks.
Turner’s interest, of course, makes sense. He was a casualty of the major
shakeup by Colts owner Jim Irsay after Indy finished last in the NFL at 2-14. Turner
needs a job, and the Bucs no doubt look quite appealing under the
One of Turner’s claims to fame is establishing the highest completion
percentage in Bears’ history in 1994 and 1995 (61.4 and 60.2). In his second
go-around with Chicago in 2005, he oversaw rookie quarterback Kyle Orton and
the league’s No. 8 running game as the Bears finished 11-5.
Lazor has an interesting resume, having coached on the staffs of such
heavyweight former NFL head coaches as Joe Gibbs, Mike Holmgren and Dan Reeves.
Lazor might be ready for a jump back to the NFL after two seasons with the
Cavs, and the door is wide open in Tampa Bay.
Maybe, Turner or Lazor would be less likely to balk at an offer to come aboard.
On the other hand, these are the Bucs, where seldom is heard an encouraging
word these days in the ongoing search for a coaching staff.