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
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
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.