If it matters to the Tampa Bay fan base Tony Dungy, one of the most respected voices in the NFL thinks the Bucs hiring of Lovie Smith is the perfect match. He feels Smith will be able to turn things around at One Buc Place in the not too distant future.
Dungy hired Smith as his linebacker’s coach in 1996 when the former Bucs head coach was putting together his staff. Smith and Dungy were together with Tampa Bay for a total of four years before he was encouraged to by his boss to take the defensive coordinators job in St. Louis.
It would that Rams job that would spring board Smith to landing the head coaching job in Chicago in 2005 and he would hold that job until 2012. While in the Windy City he took the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006 where he lost to Dungy and the Colts and Peyton Manning. While in Chicago Smith compiled a record of 84-66-0 while leading the Bears to the playoffs NFC North Championships three times and in 2005 was named both the Associated Coach of the Year as well as thePro Foofball Writers Coach of the Year.
Smith was very well respected throughout the NFL by players and executives for his straightforward style and his ability to relate to the players, Things that Smith credited to his mentor Dungy, and reason’s why he was a successful head coach.
Dungy was asked by the Tampa Bay Times about his thoughts on Smith returning to the area as the head coach. Here what he told the newspaper:
“I think he knows the lay of the land in the organization, No. 1. He’s been there and knows how this thing really developed and how it got going well. I also think he could bring some of that back.
“They’ve got talented people in place, and the one thing he had in Chicago if you talk to all those players, was that loyalty factor and guys wanting to play for him, and I think that’s what he would bring to the Bucs. He has the ability to get this team together and moving in the right direction.”
The Bucs moved swiftly to sign Smith because he was on the radar of at least three other teams who were looking for a new headcoach. His representatives had been contacted by the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins.