Commentary | If Schiano goes, Tampa Bay Buccaneers have plenty of options for replacement

adell@bradenton.comDecember 29, 2013 


Anywhere from seven to 10 NFL head coaches will be fired Monday.

It's uncertain whether the list will include Greg Schiano.

The Glazer family, which owns the Tampa Bay Bucs, has been stone-cold silent.

That could be a deafening noise to Schiano, who finishes his second year as the Bucs' beleaguered head coach Sunday at New Orleans.

This is not that difficult.

If the Glazer brothers have yet to make a decision, they should look at five teams that made turnarounds in 2013.

No mirrors.

No magic.

There are no guarantees, but the chance for failure decreases significantly if the owner knows how to read a resume.

The head coaches of each of these teams have resumes that dwarf Schiano's. They are also proof that a turnaround can happen quickly with the right leadership.

A rule of thumb: Hire a coach who has done something special, who possesses a resume that jumps out at you.

Throw out the personal recommendations; they are wrapped in friendships and favors.

As Bill Parcells famously said, "You are what your record says you are."

With a reported $17 million in cap money available, the Bucs are close.

Take a look at coaches who turned franchises around in 2013:

• BRUCE ARIANS, Arizona Cardinals: He's got the 10-5 Cardinals knocking on the playoff door and doing it with a broken-down quarterback in Carson Palmer, who has thrown 21 interceptions. He showed his mettle last year as interim coach, leading the Indianapolis Colts to a 9-3 record after a 2-14 season. He also was Pittsburgh offensive coordinator for five years helping Steelers win two AFC titles and a Super Bowl. He had 15 years NFL experience before getting the Arizona job. How did this guy slip through the cracks?

• RON RIVERA, Carolina Panthers: Those pushing for the Bucs to keep Schiano use Rivera as an example, but there is no similarity. The Panthers (11-4) are a victory away from winning their division. Rivera (in his third year) never lost more than 10 games in a season, and last year the 7-9 Panthers won five of their last six. He was the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears in 2005, when his defense was ranked second in the NFL. He coached 11 years in the NFL before getting a head job. He played in the NFL from '84 to '92 and was member of the Bears' '85 Super Bowl title team. He's got a resume.

• CHIP KELLY, Philadelphia Eagles: The Bucs reportedly almost had Kelly, but we will never know how close they came. He was a college coach, but won three Pac-12 titles at Oregon and appeared in four BCS games and one BCS title game. He had a 46-7 NCAA record. In his final four seasons as offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, he averaged more than 30 points per game. He has the Eagles a victory away from winning a division title after going 4-12 in 2012, and his offense is ranked second in the NFL (29th last year). He is doing it with a backup quarterback most of the season. He doesn't cry about injuries.

• ANDY REID, Kansas City Chiefs: He is responsible for the best turnaround this season, taking the 2-14 Chiefs to 11-4 heading into final game. Reid's record includes seven division titles in 14 years with the Eagles. He shows what an experienced coach and proven winner can do.

• SEAN PAYTON, New Orleans Saints: Last year's 7-9 record was an aberration with bountygate and Payton out as coach. Payton may be the best in the business with three division titles and a Super Bowl title in seven years. With win today against the Bucs, the Saints (10-5) will make playoffs and could win division.

• MIKE McCOY, San Diego Chargers: Call this a modest gain. He has the Chargers at 8-7 after the team went 7-9. McCoy has been in the NFL since 2000 and was the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos beginning in 2009, turning in impressive numbers while coaching Kyle Orton to career year. He showed the ability to adjust with Tim Tebow in 2011 when the Broncos led the NFL in rushing. The Broncos' offense ranked fourth in the NFL in his final season there. He was matched with greatness with Peyton Manning his quarterback at Denver, but there is nothing mediocre here.

Meanwhile ...

• GREG SCHIANO, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: No Big East titles in 11 years at Rutgers. Before taking the Bucs job, he had not coached in NFL since '98. Schiano's record at Rutgers was 68-67 and 65-47 from 2003-2011. Big East 28-48. Bowl games (5-1) against teams with a combined 34-31 record. Let's be kind and say this represents mediocrity, but Bucs' fans shouldn't settle for that. He talks about injuries. He sent away players who are thriving elsewhere such as Michael Bennett, George Selvie, Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount.

Some advice for the Bucs if they part ways with Schiano:

Do your homework. Don't go out of the box and try to be Einstein because you will look foolish.

Let the resume speak for itself. Stay away from college coaches. If you can't resist, make sure their achievements sparkle, though that doesn't guarantee success (see Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Steve Spurrier, Mike Riley, Rich Brooks).

Some candidates with good track records, though not perfect: Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Zimmer (could be the next Arians, supposedly doesn't interview well and brutal frankness scares some owners, which is something Bucs could use). Jon Gruden (why not?), Jay Gruden, Bill O'Brien, Mike Shanahan, Adam Gase (Denver OC; worked with Peyton the magician) Darrell Bevell (Seahawks OC works with Russell Wilson); would be good for the team that lands Johnny Manziel, who will likely be available when Bucs pick.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reachedat 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at@ADellSports.

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