The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved fast and swift to hire Lovie Smith as their next head coach this past week, but he wasn’t their first choice to lead the team into the future. According to CBSSports insider Jason La Canfora, the Buccaneers first reached out to CBS analyst Bill Cowher and also gauged former head coach Jon Gruden’s interest in coming back to the team.
Needless to say, both coaches declined the Buccaneers offer to enter into negotiations, but it’s interesting to hear that the Buccaneers were apparently looking into a new head coach as early as November.
Tampa Bay ownership pursued a reunion with former Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden, according to league sources, making a run at him prior to their eventual hiring of former Bears coach Lovie Smith. Furthermore, according to league sources, the Bucs sent word to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher about their interest in him back in November, but were quickly informed Cowher was more than happy working as an analyst for CBS.
Smith now has total control over the Buccaneers personnel decisions, which is likely something that was also offered to Cowher and Gruden as well. But just because Smith isn’t the first guy the Bucs called, doesn’t mean he wasn’t highly coveted by them as they hired him within a week of firing Greg Schiano.
Both Cowher and Gruden coaching Tampa Bay would have been interesting but Smith seems to be the right choice, at least initially.