I have no inside knowledge of the Glazers' plans. The reclusive owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have always played it close to the vest, and their previous coaching moves came out of the blue and were a big shock to the fanbase. Tony Dungy was fired in 2001 after rebuilding an awful team, but the real shock was their hiring Jon Gruden, giving up two first-round draft picks and $8 million. The biggest shock came in 2009, however, when Jon Gruden was suddenly fired just one year after receiving an expensive, long-term contract extension.
So, I can't tell you that Raheem Morris will or won't be fired. The Glazers play to the beat of their own drummer, and they don't let on much until they make a move. It's why no one believed the Glazers when they came out with a vote of confidence for Raheem Morris after the disastrous 2009 season. But Raheem Morris stayed, and seemed to have gotten the team on track in 2010.
But now, all bets are off. The Bucs have lost six straight games and seem to be playing worse every week. The Bucs aren't just losing, they're not even competitive. Speculation about Raheem Morris' future is running rampant, and unless he produces a few wins and some quality play over the final four weeks it's hard to see the Glazers' retaining him - although they always could.
But in the past the Glazers have clearly shown they are not satisfied with mediocrity. When Tony Dungy kept getting to the playoffs but missing out on the big dance, they fired him. When Jon Gruden failed to win a playoff game and build a talent-base they fired him, despite his recent long-term contract extension and his three division titles.
One question to come up in all of this is: are the Glazers willing to spend money for a top-tier coach? I can't answer that definitively, but I can certainly give some indications based on their previous actions. Hit the jump to find out what I think the Glazers will do, based on what they have done in the past.
The issue of straight cash, homie
The Glazers have repeatedly been accused of being cheap owners. And it's certainly true that they've been near the bottom of the NFL in terms of player salaries for years on end. That kind of attitude has certainly netted them a lot of profits. Despite mediocre revenue, Forbes lists the Buccaneers as the team with the fourth highest operating as they took home $50.8 million - although that number is based on EBITDA, and taxes, debts, amortization and other expenditures could significantly affect that numbers. But the Bucs certainly look like a very successful business in terms of profit.
So there's reason to believe the Glazers have been cheap, although their low expenditures can also be explained by pointing to Mark Dominik's plan to build through the draft - which early on always leads to low salaries. But regardless of the truth in their cheapness, the Glazers have not skimped on coaching salaries in the past.
This starts with Tony Dungy, who the Glazers awarded with a five-year contract extension just two years into his initial six-year contract. That contract reportedly made Dungy one of the highest-paid coaches in the league. When the Bucs fired Dungy after the 2001 season they again spent millions on their new coach. Not only did they give Jon Gruden a reported five-year, $17.5 million contract, they also handed the Oakland Raiders $8 million and two first-round draft picks for the right to hire Gruden.
Two years later they gave Gruden a two-year contract extension, keeping him in Tampa through the 2008 season and reportedly paying him $4.3 million per season. And in 2008 they increased his salary yet again. This time they paid him $15 million for three years, or $5 million per year through 2011. Keeping that in perspective: when Jim Harbaugh joined the San Francisco 49ers this year he received a five-year $25 million contract per ESPN.
And while Raheem Morris has never been an expensive head coach for the Bucs, the Bucs were (and still are) forced to pay Jon Gruden all of that money. So while Morris didn't earn a lot of money, the Glazers were still spending a lot of money on the head coaching job. Gruden's contract will come off the books this offseason, however, which will
All this to say: money will not be a problem - if we can believe history.
The issue of finding a coach
The Glazers have done three different things to find a coach.
The first time they hired a well-respected defensive coordinator who was mainly criticized for being too stoic. That was Tony Dungy. They had a lot of success with him, as he rebuilt a perennial loser and created a terrific defense, but he couldn't beat Philadelphia in the playoffs and that wasn't good enough for them.
The second time they hired a young, brash, successful head coach who had created a high-powered offense using mostly free agents and retreads as players. That was Jon Gruden. He won a Super Bowl, but the combination of his veteran-loving ways and Bruce Allen's lack of draft acumen led to an old, talentless team with no real future. That spelled doom for Gruden.
The third time they hired a young position coach who could relate to young players, earn their love and had a lot of potential. He also was very inexperienced, and would clearly need to learn on the job. The Glazers weren't afraid of letting him do that during a rebuilding process, and surrounded him with experience coordinators (who were promptly fired).
These are three different head coaches. One came from the offensive side of the ball, while the other two came from the defensive side. Tony Dungy was truly the head coach, although he was more involved with the defense than the offense. But Jon Gruden and Raheem Morris have acted more as coordinators with head coaching responsibility, digging their teeth into their side.
I don't think we can learn much from the kind of coaches the Glazers have hired, except for one thing:
The common theme here is youth.
Raheem Morris was 33 when the Bucs hired him. Tony Dungy was 40. Jon Gruden was 38. Gruden was the most experienced coach of the bunch, having spent three years as an offensive coordinator and four years as a head coach in the NFL.
The biggest advantage a young head coach offers is the ability to grow with the team, and to be a potential long-term solution for the franchise. A 60-year-old coach is not going to be around for ages, while a 40-year-old could keep going for decades. The downside is that they don't generally have a great network of connections to build a staff.
All of this is based on analysis of the Glazers' actions in the past. That's important to keep in mind, as it's impossible to definitively say what the Glazers will do. Will they fire Raheem Morris? I don't know. I don't think anyone knows. And while history suggests they could hire a young head coach who is still coming up through the ranks, who knows? Maybe they will decide to try something different and hire an experienced head coach.