It is official. What many Bucs fans and media members have assumed would happen finally did. The Buccaneers have fired Head Coach Dirk Koetter and the search for a new Head Coach, the 12th in franchise history will begin, but where should it start? Every year, people see tons of names pop up, some of them out of the blue and they wonder “is this the guy?” each owner has their own style of finding a Head Coach. The Glazer’s style? Go for the big fish, no matter how impossible it may seem. History shows that the Glazers love the big names. In 2012, it seemed all but certain that the hottest name in college football, Chip Kelly was going to become the Head Coach of the Bucs, before Kelly backed out at the last minute and the Bucs settled for Greg Schiano. After Schiano was fired the Glazers aimed for a big name and scored when they hired their man in Lovie Smith. Smith was a dreadful 8-24 as Buccaneers Head Coach and was fired. Dirk Koetter was his replacement and that is a rarity for the Glazers. Koetter was the obvious choice and ended up being their guy. Last year however, they were in serious discussions with Jon Gruden for him to return to the Bucs, however the discussions fell apart when the Raiders came in with a crazy offer for Gruden. So now the Glazers are up to this point and will begin looking for a different man to lead their football team. Lets take a look at who that man could be.
Jim Harbaugh, HC, Michigan
Remember when I said the Glazers like to go after big names? Well Harbaugh would certainly fit the bill for what they may be looking for. Harbaugh was a QB in the NFL from 1987-2001 but most people remember him as a coach. Harbaugh was the Raiders quarterbacks coach from 2002-2003 before accepting a offer to become the Head Coach at the University Of San Diego. From there Harbaugh was named Stanford’s Head Coach in 2007 all the way until 2011 when he was named the 49ers Head Coach and the rest is history. In his four years as Niners Head Coach, Harbaugh only missed the playoffs once and never had a losing record. After a few clashes with the front office, Harbaugh and the 49ers agreed to mutually part ways. Harbaugh would then go back to the college ranks and become the next Head Coach of the Michigan Wolverines. In his four seasons there, he is 38-13 but cannot seem to win the big game. If the Glazers want to take a run at him, it would take a lot to pry him away from Michigan. He has a ton of power, is making 7 million dollars a year which makes him one of the highest paid coaches in college football and with Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer recently announcing retirement, Harbaugh may feel that his window to win is finally opening. Why would he leave? That is something that the Glazers may try to give Harbaugh reasons for if they choose to go that route.
Mike McCarthy, Former Packers HC
Another big name that may be on the Glazer’s radar is former Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy was the coach of the Packers for 13 seasons that included six division championships, four NFC Championship game appearances and a Super Bowl in 2009. He was fired by the Packers on December 2, 2018 after a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He will certainly be a name that a lot of teams with Head Caoching openings consider. His 125-77-2 record as a Head Coach speaks for itself. There are concerns with McCarthy though. He did not get fired for some random reason. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly was upset with the offensive play calling for a few weeks and said it lacked creativity. This caused a rift in the Green Bay locker room and sealed McCarthy’s fate. Many people have been wondering if McCarthy is even that good of a coach because of how many times Rodgers had to pull a rabbit out of his hat to ensure a Packers W. That will be a question that the Glazers will have to ask themselves and figure out if they are seriously considering McCarthy. McCarthy would bring experience and respect that this team has not had for a long time.
Lincoln Riley, HC, Oklahoma
Another big name here, just not in the same situation as the other two guys mentioned on this list so far. Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley has become one of the hottest names in all of college football the past 2 years. Riley does not have anywhere near the experience or the track record that Harabugh and McCarthy have, but that may be a good thing. Maybe this Buccaneer team needs some real fresh air. Many consider Riley to be the next Chip Kelly because of how successful he is in the college ranks and the interest the NFL has in him. That is not saying that Riley will be a disappointment like Kelly was, but it is saying that teams are definitely looking at the 35 year old to be the next “offensive genius”. In his two years as Oklahoma Head Coach, Riley is 24-3 and has coached back to back Heisman winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Could his system work in the NFL the way it has in college? There is only one way to find out and one NFL team will eventually take a chance. Will that be the Glazers this year?
Eric Bieniemy, OC, Chiefs
The next name on this list is not a big name but he could prove to be this year’s Matt Nagy or Doug Pederson. That man is Eric Bieniemy, who is in his first year as the Chiefs offensive coordinator. He was their running backs coach from 2013-2017 and was promoted to offensive coordinator when Matt Nagy left to become the Bears Head Coach. I have mentioned Matt Nagy and Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson with Bieniemy’s name because all three of these guys have two things in common. They were all offensive coordinators and they were all offensive coordinators under Andy Reid. The Andy Reid coaching tree is well documented and is one of the most successful coaching trees the NFL has ever seen, producing coaches like Super Bowl winning coaches John Harbaugh and Doug Pederson, two time coach of the year winner Ron Rivera and a possible coach of the year candidate in Matt Nagy. So that begs the question, could Bieniemy be next? The Glazers may want to pick his brain and see if they think he could be a fit with what the Glazers have in mind. The Andy Reid coaching tree is growing. Could Bieniemy be the next branch?
Kris Richard, DBs Coach, Cowboys
A popular name that has recently been thrown around in regards to a potential Head Coach job, Richard is an interesting choice. He is only 39 years old yet has a good amount of experience in the NFL. He was a 3rd round pick in the 2002 NFL draft and played from 2002-2007. Richard’s first coaching gig came in 2008 when he was hired by then USC Head Coach Pete Carroll, who Richard had played for at USC, as a graduate assistant for the USC secondary. From there Richard would follow Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks, the team who had drafted Richard as a player in 2002 and he was named the assistant defensive backs coach. In 2011, Richard was the Seahawks cornerbacks coach. From there, in 2012 he was named the defensive backs coach for Seattle, winning Super Bowl 48 on the way and would remain in that position until 2015 when he was promoted to defensive coordinator after Dan Quinn left to become the Atlanta Falcons Head Coach. Richard spent the next 3 seasons as the Seahawks defensive coordinator and in 2015 his defense ranked first in points allowed for the season, which is a good thing. Many around the league credit Pete Carroll and Richard as the two guys who created the “Legion Of Boom”, which was a term used for the Seahawks hard hitting secondary that included stars Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. In 2017, the Seahawks went 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and that caused the Seahawks to make some staff changes and Richard was one of them. The former defensive coordinator would become the Cowboys defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator on January 22, 2018. This year in Dallas, their defense has been turned around due to a few key new pieces and Richard is one of them. Now, some people will look at Richard and say well he is just the defensive backs coach, what would make him a head coach candidate? His experience and success in Seattle speaks for itself and he actually calls the defensive plays for the Cowboys. Richard will be a head coach eventually in this league, will the Glazers give him his first opportunity?
There are definitely a lot of interesting candidates to choose from this year. The Glazers could go after the big names like Harbaugh or Riley, or they could go with an up and coming coordinator like Richard or Bieniemy. Nobody knows what the Glazers are thinking. They keep things pretty much quiet and operate behind closed doors but once they set their set their sights on someone, they are aggressive in trying to get that guy. Now I want to hear from you guys, who would you like to see as the next Head Coach of the Buccaneers and why?