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Bucs fired Lovie by phone

Lovie Smith

Tampa Bay Buccaneers new head coach Lovie Smith gestures during an NFL football news conference Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Smith, a one-time Bucs assistant, replaces Greg Schiano, who was fired after the season ended. Smith coached the Chicago Bears for nine seasons from 2004 to 2012, winning 81 games, three division championships, two NFC title game appearances and one Super Bowl berth. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


When the Buccaneers fired Lovie Smith last night, they didn’t even call him into the office for a meeting with the Glazers (or the Bobs).

According to multiple reports, the Bucs informed Smith he was fired via a phone call. Shortly after they called Smith, they announced the move to the public.

Some people close to Smith seem unhappy about that. As one source told ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, “You don’t hire a coach over the phone, so why would you fire him over the phone?”

The reason the Bucs fired Smith over the phone may be that they were trying to act quickly in an effort to keep offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. The Bucs reportedly want to retain Koetter and are now planning to promote him to head coach, and they were concerned the franchise could lose him entirely when the Dolphins reached out to ask for permission to interview Koetter for the head-coaching vacancy in Miami.

Interestingly, the job search in Miami is being run by Mike Tannenbaum, who used to be Koetter’s agent. By creating a market for Koetter’s services, Tannenbaum may have done more for Koetter’s career this week than he ever did during his time as Koetter’s agent.

What we don’t know yet is whether Koetter wants the Buccaneers job. Assistant coaches almost always want to become head coaches, but that doesn’t mean Koetter wants this specific job -- especially if he has options, and the Dolphins’ interest is legitimate.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers can’t just hand the job to Koetter immediately. To comply with the Rooney Rule, they have to interview a minority candidate first. That would be following the letter of the Rooney Rule while ignoring its spirit: The idea behind the Rooney Rule wasn’t for NFL teams to first decide to hire a white coach and then set up an interview with a black coach.

So there’s a lot about the Buccaneers’ move to fire Smith that is less than ideal. Starting with last night’s phone call.