Leo's Late Hits

February 17 - Is Steve Mariucci a good fit for the Buccaneers? Buccaneer Magazine managing editor Leo Haggerty explores the possibility of the 49ers head coach taking over as Tampa Bay's head coach and general manager.

Is Steve Mariucci a good fit for the Buccaneers?

No and for two big reasons. The first is that he has the same nice guy image as former Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy. I would say it's a safe assumption to say that the inmates ran the asylum at One Buccaneer Place under their beleaguered former leader and that another passive player's coach is not what this team needs. The 49ers head coach had all sorts of problems with star wide receiver Terrell Owens that never got resolved lingering for the entire season like an open would that wouldn't heal. Why would anyone think he wouldn't have the same sort of headaches with Keyshawn Johnson and Warren Sapp in Tampa Bay as he did on the Left Coast?

The Pewter Pirates need a disciplinarian and that is just not Mariucci's style so it business as usual from that regard. The second, and the most telling, argument is that it has been reported that the current San Francisco head coach will assume the title of head coach and general manager with the Bucs. That's a huge mistake because it now puts Mariucci in a no-win situation. He would have to try and gain the trust of his players and then, at contract time, tell them they aren't as good as he has told them they were.

We only have to look to the Minnesota Vikings and see what happened to head coach Denny Green. When the former Purple People Eaters head coach only wore that hat he instilled an "us against them" attitude with his players. When he became the general manager Green became part of "them" in the eyes of his players. The same thing will happen in Tampa Bay. The truth is that only a coach who has previous knowledge of juggling both responsibilities needs to be considered for the head coach/general manager position with the Buccaneers. I don't want an "on-the-job-trainee" learning on the fly.

When does the lack of a head coach and coaching staff become a real problem for Tampa Bay?

February 28 is the date that the Bucs are up against when it comes to getting not only a head coach but also an entire coaching staff in place. That's the last day that a coach that is currently under contract can more from one NFL team to another.

Starting on March 1 the only people that a new head coach could hire would be from outside the National Football League. Someone like a Lindy Infante, the former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and a brilliant offensive mind, could be brought on board to handle the offense. Buddy Ryan, former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and the originator of the 46 defense, could take control of the defense. A Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, or Romeo Crennel, defensive coordinator of the 2002 Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, become off limits with the coming of March.

The Bucs head coaching search committee, whomever that may be, needs to move with the utmost haste to get a head coach in place. Then he can work without delay to assemble a staff before February comes to an end along with any chances the Bucs have of procuring current NFL coaches to fill their assistant coaching vacancies.

What was the biggest bungle by Bucs management in changing head coaches?

This is an easy one and it's how they fired Tony Dungy. Instead of calling a 12:00 noon press conference to cut loose the most successful head coach in Tampa Bay franchise history the Bucs ownership decided to do it in the middle of the night.

Instead of just releasing Dungy and thanking him for his six years of service that took the franchise from the outhouse to close to the penthouse during a formal press conference they opted to throw him to the curb at night. That led to a firestorm of negative public opinion when the first image you saw in the newspapers the next day was Dungy loading up his belongings in a monsoon. It wasn't a particularly good public relations move by the Glazer family and let's hope they learned from that travesty.

Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com

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