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Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Buccaneers need balance of power

By Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- I like just about everything the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done in the last week. But there's one notable exception.

I think they're making a mistake in giving coach Lovie Smith final say over the 53-man roster. That's kind of like walking a tightrope without a net. I'm not saying a coach shouldn't have a lot of say in personnel matters. But I think a general manager should have a voice that's at least equal.

The Bucs don't have a general manager yet. Kansas City Chiefs executive Chris Ballard reportedly is the favorite. Ballard and Smith worked together in Chicago, and Smith said all the right things when asked about the coach-general manager dynamic Monday.

"First off, I look at it as a marriage and as a big group making the decision," Smith said. "Of course, as a head football coach, most things stop at your doorstep. As you know, we don't have a general manager in place yet. Once our owners decide who, exactly, will be in that role, I look forward to getting with them and making decisions together that are going to lead us to a championship."

That sounds good, but Smith's contract reportedly has a clause that gives him final say. I think you need a system that includes checks and balances.

I've covered a variety of setups through the years. But the two most successful were coach Tony Dungy and general manager Rich McKay in Tampa Bay, and coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney in Carolina. In both situations, there was an equal partnership.

Dungy and McKay used to like to say their choices never came down to a final say because they always reached a consensus that included input from other members of the coaching staff and front office. Hurney and Fox used to say that they disagreed on a fair amount of things. When they didn't see eye to eye on an option, they didn't take it. Instead, they would go with another option that both were content with.

We'll see what happens when the Bucs name a general manager. But the best thing Smith can do with that general manager is to look at him as a teammate, not an underling.