The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be bringing head coach Dirk Koetter back in 2018, but that decision wasn’t made until Friday—and only after they made an “unsuccessful run” at Jon Gruden, according to NFL Network’s Michael Silver.
One reason I am not reporting that it's a done deal is... wait for it... the fact that it's not a done deal. I am adding a report that the Bucs made an unsuccessful run at Gruden. I think we all know what likely happens next. https://t.co/Klwi4h0fhe— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) December 31, 2017
The Bucs and Jon Gruden both denied ever engaging in talks to bring him back, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
This report, if true, would be a bit of a blow to Dirk Koetter’s ego, but it’s entirely plausible despite the denials. Coaches and owners lie all the time on these kinds of deals, to protect themselves and their teams. And the Glazers love to make big splashes, having made unsuccessful runs at big-name coaches before. Most infamously they tried to sign Chip Kelly in 2012, a deal that fell apart at the last minute with the Bucs finally settling on Greg Schiano instead.
The Bucs repeatedly pursued Bill Parcells in the mid-90s and early 2000s, too, and there were reports during the 2009 that they were trying to get Bill Cowher to come out of retirement to replace Raheem Morris. They denied those reports and stuck with Morris, but only after weeks of speculation—a scenario that sounds awfully similar to what happened here.
Basically, if this report is accurate, the Bucs settled for their second choice. That’s not a disaster, it’s just realistic. Koetter’s a solid coach who they couldn’t easily improve upon, and if they can’t get the guy they love, sticking with Koetter’s not a bad deal. He’ll have to prove them right this season, though, because another disastrous year will spell the end of his Tampa Bay tenure.