The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have contacted Lovie Smith about their head coaching job, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Presumably that means they'll interview him, probably as soon as possible. Stroud reported earlier today that the former Bears head coach was "very interested" in the Bucs' job. Adam Schefter considers Smith the favorite to land the job, and Ian Rapoport agreed with him on NFL Network. When even Tony Dungy endorses the choice, you really can't go wrong in this town.
Saw on ProFootballlTalk the Bucs are considering Rich McKay and Lovie Smith. Those would be best moves they could make.— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) December 30, 2013
At this point it's difficult to escape the notion that Smith will be the Bucs' next head coach. While no one ever seems to know what the Glazers will do, we can make some deductions. During their last coaching search, the Bucs spent over a month interview candidate after candidate, and no strong reports or rumors about favorites emerged until a deal was as good as done with Chip Kelly -- who then backed out. There were some reports suggesting Mike Sherman was a front runner, but those were not consistent nor nearly as ever-present as these reports connecting Lovie Smith with the Bucs. The fact that they haven't held a press conference nor stated an intention of conducting an extensive search, something they did do two years ago, also speaks in Smith's favor.
The sudden swell of reports and rumors is very reminiscent of the Kansas City Chiefs' pursuit of Andy Reid last year, or the St. Louis Rams' pursuit of Jeff Fisher the year before. Reid was hired on the Friday after the season ended, while Fisher's hire took another week. While Smith will undoubtedly be invited to interview elsewhere and has already interviewed with the Houston Texans, the Bucs could strike quickly and get a deal done with their former linebackers coach sooner rather than later.
In the end, no one can predict what the Glazers will do nor what Lovie Smith will do. But these reports are more consistent and more ever-present than I've seen in anything concerning the Glazers, and I would bet good money that the team's next head coach will be Lovie Smith.