Over three weeks into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching search the only thing that’s really clear is fans are losing confidence in the men that run their team. You can overhear it conversations between fans, you can hear it on the radio and you can’t miss it on Twitter.
The issue the Glazers and Mark Dominik are beginning to face is a crisis of faith between fans and their team.
Coming into this season a wound already existed and the Glazers had done little lately to engender good will. Large portions of the fanbase already accused the ownership of being cheap, an indictment on a family that also owns one of the most lucrative sports properties in the entire world in Manchester United. Things have been no cakewalk for the Glazers over the pond either, but in Tampa as memories of the Superbowl championship faded the fanbase was already beginning to turn its attention to an ownership group who had hired the last regime on the cheap because they still had the old one on the books.
The 10-6 season was a good diversion, but 4-12 beckoned memories of the 3-13 year that had preceded them. Now this coaching search has ripped the wound wide open.
The Glazers are taking a more hands on approach this time around, as Rick Stroud has reported they are actively involved and learning on the fly. That might account for the out of no where and seemingly desperate attempt to lure Oregon’s Chip Kelly at an absurd figure. Kelly, for all his talent had no NFL pedigree and is famous for an offense that has historically failed in the bigger, faster NFL. In the end it’s likely he realized both of those things before the Bucs did.
But, that’s the kind of thinking that lead Dan Snyder to hire Steve Spurrier in 2002. In some ways it gives off the impression you have no idea what you’re doing.
For over three weeks Bucs fans have watched as the team has interviewed numerous candidates, some exciting and some downright terrifying, and proceeded to do nothing outside of make an offer out of left-field and name Mike Sherman a finalist.
In that time numerous other teams have hired good head coaches, and good coordinators. Other teams have crossed candidates off the Buccaneers’ list for them. The Raiders cleaned house top to bottom and managed to hire a coach AND a GM in the time it took the Bucs to name their first finalist.
The fans have grown less and less confident by the day.
The Glazers and Mark Dominik cannot botch this coaching search. In a down economy in one of the hardest hit markets, with ticket sales as low as they have been and blackouts as prevalent, they cannot screw this up.
They cannot hire Mike Sherman.
Had the Bucs hired him two weeks ago, he would have been fine. He wasn’t a lot of people’s first choice but he was the first guy the team interviewed, he was consistent in the NFL, has worked with some very talented coaches and could assemble a good staff. If empowered he would have been fine.
But it’s too late. Hiring him now says, “we struck out.”
After interviewing coordinators and assistants, college coaches and former head coaches, the Bucs came back to the very first guy they interviewed. The boring, safe candidate they knew would be there all along.
Mike Sherman isn’t in high demand. Nobody is knocking down his door. The biggest competition the Bucs face with Sherman is the Dolphins where one of the guys the Bucs missed out on, Joe Philbin, wants to hire him to be a coordinator.
No, hiring Mike Sherman now looks like a cop-out.
They made their ill-fated, grandiose attempt. It didn’t pan out so they went with the safe option.
That does nothing to rebuild faith with the fans. After feeding Tampa the business about Youngry and not even coming close to spending competitively they fell flat last season and now ownership is copping out on a coaching search. Again.
Hire Mike Zimmer. Hire Rob Chudzinski. Hell, hire Kirk Ferentz. But don’t hire Mike Sherman.
That’s not only going to make the wound deeper.