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, 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 move.

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.