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NFL coaching rumors: Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden were on Buccaneers' list

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are desperate to get back to their glory days, and they reached out to plenty of experienced coaches to do so. Including, apparently,


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have hired Lovie Smith, but that wasn't the only coach they were interested in. According to Jason La Canfora, the Glazers reached out to Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden before settling on Lovie Smith.

The Bill Cowher rumors have been swirling around this franchise every year since Jon Gruden was fired. I'll never understand them, to be honest. Bill Cowher has been retired for nearly a decade now. He was a good coach for the Steelers, but he wasn't the miracle worker everyone seems to take him for, either and, like many defensive coaches, struggled to put together a competent offense. He fits the stereotypical vision people have of a football coach, but so did Greg Schiano. If Tony Dungy should have taught the Glazers anything, it's that those stereotypes don't matter.

As for Jon Gruden, that just seems delusional. Gruden was a very, very good coach, but a horrible personnel man and he and Bruce Allen systematically depleted the Bucs' talent base after the Super Bowl season. Moreover, I don't think the coach you fired after a 9-7 job would leave his premium job with ESPN to come back to a grueling schedule under thankless owners with no real job security. He could go back to Oakland if he wanted to do that.

Regardless, both Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher apparently turned the Glazers down. And I'm just fine with that. I'll take Lovie Smith and the highly qualified coaching staff he's assembling, thank you very much.

Gruden looks like a genius as a coach given the failures over the past five years, but there's something slightly sad about trying so hard to recreate the glory days with the same people who were there at the time. La Canfora also mentioned the potential of reaching out to Dungy in a management capacity, even though Dungy has consistently said that he's content away from the game, focusing on his community work. Derrick Brooks would be a more logical hire if you did want to create some fan goodwill. The current president of the Tampa Bay Storm appears to be grooming himself for a role as a team executive at some point in the future.

It's understandable, I guess. The Bucs have been struggling to connect with their fanbase in recent years, with various portions reacting negatively to Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano -- though most of all, they reacted negatively to the losing. Trying to reconnect with the glory days will help in the short term, but no Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher or Tony Dungy or Lovie Smith will make the fans feel good about a 4-12 season. Because that's what sports is about: winning games.

There's one thing the Glazers are missing, though: when they built those dominant 1990s teams, they didn't hire a retread head coach. They didn't go with executives who had been out of the business for a year. They did it by hiring a young, up-and-coming defensive coordinator with a unique personality. They did it by building on the front office they had in place, and keeping the right people in the right spots. Maybe they'd do best to try to recreate the process that led to those hires, rather than trying to hire the same people again.

It's a moot point now, though. The Glazers have their Tony Dungy II in Lovie Smith. Hopefully this Dungy can actually build an offense.