- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you’re a Tampa Bay fan looking for hope, you should check out this column by Bill Barnwell.
He runs through the usual stuff that has Buccaneers’ fans excited these days -- the arrival of coach Greg Schiano, the free-agent additions of Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Eric Wright and what appears to be a strong draft class. But Barnwell crunches some numbers and that’s where there’s a fresh ray of hope.
Barnwell points out that the Bucs went from 10-6 in 2010 to 4-12 last season. As painful as that was to watch, it might be a good thing now. Barnwell did the research on teams that endured a six-win decline from one season to the next and points out that, in the year after the big decline, those teams have averaged three additional wins.
That would boost the Bucs to 7-9. That’s not playoff material, but I don’t think that would be a bad season for a young team with a new coach. That would be a step toward the Bucs being relative again.
Speaking of that, Barnwell spends a lot of time at the top of his column pointing out the Bucs haven’t been relevant for some time and points to the team’s home attendance and lack of national attention. I can’t really argue that. The Bucs truly haven’t been relevant on a national basis and, although they have a good share of die-hard fans, the transient nature of Florida means that casual fans might pay more attention to teams from their former hometowns than they do to the Bucs.
But there are two things Barnwell says, which have nothing to do with football, that I’d like to politely disagree with. He refers to Tampa Bay as a “retirement community.’’ Yes, it’s true that parts of the region have a large amount of senior citizens. But the city of Tampa itself is far from a retirement community. Go out to areas like South Tampa, New Tampa (home to NFC South Blog world headquarters) or Carrolwood and you’ll see areas that are no different than suburbs across the nation. Barnwell also makes reference to Tampa Bay as a small market.
It’s not small. The Tampa/St. Petersburg market, which also includes Sarasota, ranks No. 14 among television markets nationally. No, Tampa Bay isn’t New York or Los Angeles. But it’s right in the same ballpark as Phoenix and Minneapolis, markets that nobody calls small.
But, hey, I get it that a market can be perceived as small if its NFL team isn’t relevant. The only way to change that is if the Bucs go out and win and make themselves relevant again.