During his introductory press conference, new Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith told the assembled media that former Buccaneers were welcome at any time at One Buc Place. Smith explained that the franchise needs to call upon its traditions and put pressure on new players to meet the standards set by previous Bucs greats.
No position group will feel more pressure than the linebackers, who will have a familiar face coaching them from the sidelines in 2014.
Former #Bucs Pro Bowl LB Hardy Nickerson has agreed to join Lovie Smith's coaching staff as an assistant coaching linebackers.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 7, 2014
Nickerson coached under Lovie Smith in Chicago for a year, but left due to family health concerns. He would get back into coaching in 2010 as the head coach of a high school football team in California. He had a great deal of success in charge as a high school coach, but after three years he left the job to pursue other opportunities.
As it turns out, re-joining Lovie Smith was the opportunity he was waiting for.
The Buccaneers already have one of the best linebackers in the NFL in Lavonte David, but have received mixed results from middle linebacker Mason Foster, and will likely have a new starter at strongside linebacker in 2014. And even if familiar faces like Dekoda Watson or Jonathan Casillas return to Tampa Bay, they’ll receive a huge boost from the tutoring of Hardy Nickerson.
With the hiring of Nickerson, it’s reasonable to expect that other former Buccaneers who have an interest and proven ability to coach or lead will have a role in Tampa Bay under Lovie Smith. Derrick Brooks comes to mind as a potential addition to the front office, although that isn’t a decision that Smith can make on his own.
Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber and John Lynch have moved to the television side of the NFL, but there may be other former Buccaneers who return to Tampa to work for Lovie Smith. Are there any names you’d like to see back in Tampa as a part of Smith’s staff? Let us know in the comments.