Monday, December 30, 2013
Greg Schiano never fit with Buccaneers
By Pat Yasinskas
TAMPA, Fla. -- In the final analysis, Greg Schiano was fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the exact same reason he was hired.
He was an unbending disciplinarian who was never going to be loved by his players. He was as opposite as you can get from his predecessor, Raheem Morris, and that's why the Glazer family, which owns the team, lured Schiano away from Rutgers less than two years ago.
With three more seasons left on his contract, the Glazers showed Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik the door on Monday. The Bucs went 11-21 in Schiano's two seasons. The on-field results weren't flattering, but the off-field stuff was even more of a calamity.
Quite simply, the Glazers made a big mistake when they hired Schiano. There was no question Morris had to go and the Bucs needed to run a tighter ship. But the Bucs went overboard and brought in a steel barge that ended up sinking very quickly.
The Bucs went from one extreme to another instead of settling for something in the middle. They went with a coach who operated like he still was in college. Schiano came in and took control of everything, from the way practices were structured to the thermostat setting at One Buccaneer Place.
I had no problem with him running off Aqib Talib, LeGarrette Blount and Kellen Winslow. Those three were talented, but more trouble than they were worth. Their departures sent a message to the rest of the team that nobody was sacred. Had it ended there, Schiano might have been all right.
But it didn't end there. Schiano went too far in trying to control everything and everyone in the building, and it backfired on him. The strongest example came in the person of Josh Freeman, who once was viewed as the franchise quarterback.
There are two sides to every story, and Freeman had his flaws -- including an inability to find a functioning alarm clock -- but I think this situation could have been handled a lot differently.
Freeman was talented and a good guy. But he was a unique personality. He was laid back and cool, two traits that Schiano doesn't prefer in a quarterback. So Freeman and Schiano clashed.
And they didn't just clash. They did it in spectacular fashion. As Freeman went from being the franchise quarterback to being released, bombshells came from both sides. The ugliest point came when it was reported that Freeman was in the league's drug-testing program.
Freeman's camp alleged that Schiano was the one who leaked that sensitive information. Schiano firmly denied he had any involvement. But the damage was done.
Even if it's not accurate, there's a point where perception becomes reality. If you were a player in Tampa Bay's locker room, you suddenly got the impression that even your confidential records could become public.
The soap-opera atmosphere of the past few months was more than a little ironic. Schiano was supposed to be the guy who brought much-needed order to the franchise. Instead, he went overboard on matters of control -- and that's why things spun out of control.