The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired head coach Greg Schiano after continued struggles on the field and far too many negative issues off it. He ends his run with an 11-21 record after going 4-12 in 2013.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer was first to report:
Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik have been fired!— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 30, 2013
The team later confirmed the news:
Schiano spoke about the decision after the announcement (via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. CBS Sports' Eye on Football and Jeff Darlington of NFL.com):
Schiano: We didn't get it done and I accept full responsibility for that.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 30, 2013
Schiano says he did not know when he met with players. "I woke up this morning fully focused on the future "— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 30, 2013
Greg Schiano on Bucs tenure: "It was quite an honor and I enjoyed every day of it."— Eye on Football (@EyeOnNFL) December 30, 2013
Schiano takes responsibility while making this clear: "Whoever takes over this job is taking over a good situation - a real good situation."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 30, 2013
As for what's next for Tampa Bay, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Lovie Smith is the favorite to replace Schiano:
Former Bears HC Lovie Smith is considered the favorite for the Buccaneers HC job, based on multiple league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 30, 2013
While the team's results under Schiano were enough to land him on the hot seat, it was likely the growing discontent among players that expedited his exit. The franchise couldn't continue to operate with so many problems below the surface.
It's uncertain when the issues began to develop, but they became public knowledge early in the season when Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reported star cornerback Darrelle Revis wasn't pleased with Schiano's rules. He also didn't like the defense that was in place during his first season in Tampa.
Schiano and Revis eventually met "to clear (the) air," per NFL Network's Andrea Kremer, but a couple weeks later the Josh Freeman mess began to unfold. The former Rutgers head coach decided to unceremoniously bench his starting quarterback one week before the team's bye, and the Bucs eventually let Freeman go.
The decision led to a media firestorm. Andrew Brandt of SI.com summed up the situation by stating there was an "atmosphere of fear and distrust" under Schiano in Tampa Bay, which makes it difficult for a franchise to thrive:
In speaking with agents of several Bucs players recently, I have sensed a common theme: There is an atmosphere of fear and distrust under the current regime in Tampa. Players have told their agents about coaches roaming through the locker room (typically the players' sanctuary away from coaches) and staff videotaping players on the sidelines during losses to single out players laughing or horsing around. The players also speak to the influx of multiple Rutgers players from Schiano's past and the use of the phrase "Schiano Men," a term that clearly does not apply to Freeman.
Make no mistake, Freeman was not playing well and a change under center could have been justified. But the way the entire situation was handled, from the benching to the release and the reaction to it, showed there was something wrong in Tampa Bay.
As the losses continued to pile up, Michael Silver of NFL.com spoke with several players who have played under the Bucs coach over the past two years. The common theme to their responses was that he treated players like kids.
One former player even likened the experience to being in Cuba:
And yes, you'll notice I used the word men. That's because I've spoken to enough people who've played for Schiano during his two NFL seasons to conclude that he treats his players like children, which is a major reason he has lost his locker room.
"How bad is it there? It's worse than you can imagine," says one NFL player who spent 2012 with the Bucs. "It's like being in Cuba."
The Buccaneers stood by Schiano until the season ended. The lack of victories forced the front office's hand following all of the drama, however.
Schiano became a prominent NFL option after helping turn the Rutgers program around. Yet he quickly found out that dealing with college athletes is completely different from dealing with pro players, and it seemed he never fully completed the transition.
It left the Bucs with little choice but to move in another direction. The process is now underway with an eye toward 2014 after they decided to let Schiano go.
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