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Friday, January 18
Coaching buffet more limited for Tampa Bay

By Len Pasquarelli

In football, as in life, timing is everything.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, jilted again Friday night by Bill Parcells, it could be the worst thing.

Had he decided a week ago not to accept a job that surreptitiously pursued him for over a year, Parcells would have done the Bucs a monumental favor. The team could have honored the final year of Tony Dungy's contract or courted University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

But having assumed Parcells would honor the non-binding agreement he entered into about a month ago, Tampa Bay had no contingency plan, and now the team might not have the chance to secure a high-profile head coach. The franchise must now lean heavily on general manager Rich McKay to bail it out. Here is a look at some potential candidates:

  • Dennis Green: The former Minnesota Vikings coach has allegedly gone fishing, preparing for a role in a syndicated fishing program, but might be coaxed back to the sideline for a situation as promising as the Bucs. Sources told ESPN.com last week Green would have considered coming back if either of the Bay Area coaching jobs became vacant. We didn't ask if that included the Tampa Bay area.

  • Monte Kiffin: The current Bucs defensive coordinator was in line to maintain that key role on Parcells' staff and could provide continuity to a listing Buccaneers ship in need of stability. Age is a factor, though, and the team would have to hire a proven replacement.

  • Marvin Lewis: A hot commodity this time a year ago, the Baltimore Ravens' defensive boss has seen his star fall a bit this year. Should the Ravens lose this weekend, he might be interviewed by the Carolina Panthers, but is a long shot there. Tampa Bay might do just as well to keep Kiffin.

  • Jim Mora: Still viewed in some quarters as a fundamentally sound coach, but he's 66 years old and might have been around the block too many times for the Bucs brass' liking. Probably won't merit much more than a fleeting thought.

  • Nick Saban: Perhaps the best suited of the college crowd, having rebuilt the program at LSU and earned himself a handsome raise and security. Saban has previous NFL experience, having served as defensive coordinator of the old Cleveland Browns. He has been mentioned each of the last few years as a likely candidate to move back to the pro game. Notable is that Saban has the same agent as Parcells, but Tampa Bay officials would be wise not to hold a grudge because he is one of the few "brand name" coaches left on the market.

  • Marty Schottenheimer: Would bring with him a degree of respect, but might have to win over some veterans, as was the case in Washington. Has emerged now as the leading candidate for the San Diego Chargers opening. Team is said to be considering a three-year offer of $1.2 million, $1.3 million and $1.5 million. How could San Diego land him at just $4 million total? Because owner Dan Snyder in Washington is on the hook for the difference between the $7.5 million he owes Schottenheimer for the next three years and the value of whatever deal he lands next.

  • George Seifert: His legacy was unfortunately tarnished by three non-winning seasons with the Carolina Panthers. The guy didn't simply forget how to coach, but he might be forgotten now by teams seeking a sideline boss since the Panthers were so bad under his stewardship.

  • Lovie Smith: The former Tampa Bay linebackers coach is certainly familiar with Buccaneers personnel and has only been gone one year. He transformed the porous St. Louis defense into a top five unit and connects well to the players. He's going to be a head coach somewhere in the next three seasons. If you don't get him now, you might not get him later.

  • Bob Stoops: Has rebuffed all attempts to pry him away from Oklahoma, including the recent attempt by the University of Florida. He has name recognition in the state, but no NFL experience. Stoops doesn't appear all that interested yet in jumping to the pro game.

  • Norv Turner: If the Chargers offensive coordinator loses out to Schottenheimer on the San Diego head coach job, he could be looking for another opportunity. Turner's demeanor might not quite fit with the Tampa Bay defense but, given the talent on hand, it's a good bet he would get the offense headed in the right direction.

    Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

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