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Dirk Koetter "leading candidate" for Buccaneers after firing Lovie Smith

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's starting to sound like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Lovie Smith specifically to hire Dirk Koetter, who is getting interest from the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles as a potential head coach.

Pewter Report is calling Dirk Koetter a "leading candidate" for the Buccaneers job. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times is going further, reporting that it feels like a "coronation for Dirk Koetter to become head coach." In fact, Stroud says the Bucs made the decision to fire Lovie Smith when they did because Koetter was getting interest as a head coaching candidate in Miami and the Glazers and general manager Jason Licht felt "they had to move quickly."

That kind of reactionary decision-making seems characteristic for the Glazers in recent years, who made a similar move in firing Jon Gruden to hire Raheem Morris back in 2009.

Keeping Dirk Koetter would give the Bucs some much-needed continuity for Jameis Winston, who had a promising rookie year as the team's starting quarterback. Koetter came in and re-energized a disastrous offense, though personnel improvements at offensive line and quarterback had a lot do with that improvement as well.

If the Bucs hire Koetter, they're getting an experienced NFL offensive coach who's done a good if not necessarily exceptional job in Jacksonville (2007-2011) and Atlanta (2012-2014). he cut his teeth in college, though, acting as an offensive coordinator at Missouri, Boston College and Oregon, before a three-year stint as Boise State's head coach (26-10, two Humanitarian bowl wins) and five as Arizona State's head coach (40-34, two bowl wins).

At the same time, being a head coach is very different from being a coordinator, even in the NFL. There's a lot more high-level management and delegation, and a lot less hands-on coaching. And Koetter will have to get to work to find a defensive coordinator and put together a coaching staff quickly.

The only thing standing in the way of the Bucs hiring Koetter is the Rooney Rule, which mandates a minority head coaching candidate be interviewed.