If Greg Schiano can have the same impact on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that he did on the Rutgers football program, perhaps things will be turned around.
The Bucs signed the 45-year-old coach to a five-year contract today, giving him the kind of commitment that was never afforded Raheem Morris, and setting the organization on a new path.
The Bucs searched for more than three weeks for a replacement for Morris, and thought they had landed their man in Oregon’s Chip Kelly before he changed his mind after agreeing to coach the team.
“The reason we hired Schiano is because of what he is defensively, what he's done not only as a coordinator, but certainly as a head coach,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "The way he took the Rutgers program and what he built it in to. That certainly was part of the decision-making process.
"We liked his leadership, his structure, his organization and he's a football guy through and through. He is a strong believer in fundamentals and tackling, which is a lost art in the NFL somewhat. He has a head coach's big picture mentality the way he looks at special teams, which is important. He's got a strong demeanor and presence to him. I know his work ethic. When you talk around the league and do the research, there's a lot of respect for him as a football coach and that's the big thing to get our team at a consistent level and beyond.'”
Now, the Bucs have to get on the fast track when it comes to putting a coaching staff together. Teams that are the last to do so after head-coaching changes don’t always have the ideal pool of candidates to select from.
It will be interesting to see if the Bucs commit to spending money in free agency to accelerate the rebuilding process. Tampa kept the wallet in the pockets of the Glazer family under Morris, and the Bucs have some talented young players but really lack depth because they didn’t spend much.
Schiano was apparently a hot candidate. ESPN reported that he was a finalist for the St. Louis Rams job that went to Jeff Fisher.
Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs
Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune