The Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren't the only ones after Lovie Smith, as the Detroit Lions were reportedly heavily interested in at least interviewing the veteran head coach. It never got to that point, though: the Bucs got him in the building and didn't let him go without a contract, officially announcing the hiring of Smith today.
In speaking to the Tampa Bay Times, Lovie's son and agent Matt Smith said there was one simple reason why Lovie Smith came back to Tampa. "It's home. That was something it had over other places. The level of familiarity and comfort level was important."
"I just don't want to go somewhere," Lovie said. "I want to go the right place. Tampa is the right place."
As a Bucs fan, that warms my heart. Unlike in previous coaching searches, the Buccaneers had competition for the man they wanted. And they won -- they actually beat out a team, and one with a franchise-ish quarterback, no less, in securing the services of their head coach. I'm not sure that has ever happened before.
I'm sure the private plane ride didn't hurt, though. Somehow that private plane always seems to show up when the Bucs are courting coaches or free agents.
Matt Smith went on to praise the defensive stars the Bucs already have in place, and Mark Dominik's job in getting them. Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron and Darrelle Revis were specifically mentioned as key pieces, while he also threw some praise towards Mike Glennon.
Most of all, though, Smith's commitment to the team and area stood out. The Bucs and Lovie Smith are clearly and deliberately trying to channel Tony Dungy's ways. Here's to them getting back to that level of sustained excellence.