Bucs ‘welcome back Lovie Smith’ as coach

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the hiring of coach Lovie Smith official Thursday.

The news first broke Wednesday night, but contract details had to be finalized. Smith, who signed a five-year deal, will be introduced at a Monday news conference.

“Today is an exciting day for the Buccaneer organization, and the entire Tampa Bay community, as we welcome back Lovie Smith,” Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer said. “We knew from the start of our search that he was the ideal man to lead our team into a new era of Buccaneer football. Lovie is an accomplished and very well-respected head coach who has enjoyed success at every level of his 30-year career.”

The hiring is a homecoming for Smith, 55. He served as Tampa Bay’s linebackers coach under coach Tony Dungy from 1996 to 2000. Smith went on to become defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams and then became the head coach in Chicago in 2004, leading the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in the 2006 season.

“I think the fit is going to be tremendous,” Dungy said. “No. 1, he knows the area, he knows how the team got built into a Super Bowl winner, he knows how to win in the NFL, but more than that, I think he is going to build just a chemistry and camaraderie in that locker room and in the whole organization that’s going to resemble what we had before. I’m really excited and I know the players are going to be ecstatic playing for Coach Smith.”

Smith inherits a team that went 7-9 and 4-12 under Greg Schiano, who was fired Monday. The Bucs started the 2013 season 0-8, and there was plenty of controversy. Quarterback Josh Freeman was benched after three games and was replaced by rookie Mike Glennon.

“I’m excited about getting to meet Coach Smith and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him,” Glennon said. “Obviously, he has a great track record in the NFL, so I think it’s a great hire. He knows how to win, has a great mind for defenses, and I’ve also heard he’s just a great person. I’m looking forward to meeting him and the rest of the coaches. Hopefully, we can get started as soon as possible.”

In other developments Thursday, former California coach Jeff Tedford agreed to become Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator under Smith, according to league sources.

Smith and the Bucs also are targeting Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard as the team’s next general manager, sources said. Prior to taking the Chiefs job in 2013, Ballard was in the Bears’ personnel department when Smith was their head coach.

The Bucs still may interview another candidate or two for the general manager job but Ballard tops the list, according to the sources.

Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen was used in this report.

  • Previously covered NFC South for ESPN.com
  • Covered Panthers for The Charlotte Observer from 1999-2008
  • Began journalism career with The Tampa Tribune in 1990

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