Tampa Bay turnaround: Mooch staying with Niners

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plucked their new head coach from the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday. But it wasn't Steve Mariucci.

In a stunning reversal, the Bucs made an early-morning deal with the Oakland Raiders that brought them Jon Gruden as their new coach instead of Mariucci, who said Monday that he declined an offer from Tampa Bay on Sunday evening after meeting with team owner Malcolm Glazer and his sons Joel and Bryan.

"The job was offered to me (Sunday), and we agreed to continue to talk about it, which we did," said Mariucci, who completed his fifth season as 49ers coach in January. "I'm the coach here (in San Francisco). They want me to be the coach here. And I told them this is where I want to be. What I had to compare was that situation versus what I have. And what I have is what I want."

The Buccaneers asked for and received permission on Friday from 49ers ownership to speak with Mariucci about becoming Tampa Bay's coach and general manager. That appeared to be a sign that Niners management wasn't reluctant to see Mariucci leave the franchise, despite his fine job in leading the team to a surprising 12-4 record and playoff berth this past season.

But Mariucci said his comfort level with the 49ers, loyalty to owners Denise DeBartolo York and her husband John York, along with family concerns made the decision to stay easy.

"I really enjoy working for John York and Denise," Mariucci said. "They've been very good to me. As much as I enjoyed meeting with the Glazer family, I'm loyal to John and Denise. ... Regardless of how much we tried to make it OK, I just couldn't come to grips with finding a way to be away from my family for a year and a half or a year or moving them again. I've moved my family many times. At this time in my life, it would have been extremely difficult to do that."

When it became apparent Mariucci wasn't going to accept a deal, the Bucs then turned their focus back to Gruden - who they had pursued earlier - and sweetened a compensation offer to Al Davis that the Oakland owner could not refuse. Davis said at a news conference that he was receiving a first- and second-round draft pick from the Bucs this year, a first-round pick in 2003 and a second-round pick in 2004 along with an $8 million payment to be made over three years.

The Bucs also were offering four high picks over the next two years to the Niners for Mariucci, said Mariucci at his Monday news conference. The coach, however, said he wasn't interested in leaving his situation in San Francisco, despite reported differences with some team management types and a very public feud with star receiver Terrell Owens.

"I'm happy to work with Terry (Donahue, Niners general manager)," Mariucci said. "I couldn't be happier with the front office. I've had a lot of neat teams that I've enjoyed coaching, but last year's team was probably my favorite. We've got a good thing going."


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