Thursday, September 3, 2009
Just-hired Jagodzinski fired by Bucs
By Pat Yasinskas
TAMPA, Fla. -- In a stunning move 10 days before the start of the regular season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have dismissed offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski.
The Bucs announced the move in a statement Thursday morning and said quarterbacks coach Greg Olson will take over as coordinator.
"We needed more direction," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said in an early-afternoon news conference. "We needed more precision. [We weren't] getting it at the time, so you make the change."
The change comes on the eve of the Bucs' preseason finale against the Houston Texans. Tampa Bay opens the regular season Sept. 13 at home against the Dallas Cowboys.
"I am certainly disappointed but I wish nothing but the best for Raheem Morris and the entire Buccaneer organization," Jagodzinski said in a statement Thursday. "I was given the chance to remain on staff as the quarterbacks coach, but felt that the timing for such a move was not in the best interest for either side."
Morris and team sources confirmed Jagodzinski had the option of staying on the staff but declined. Morris and team sources also said the conflict in no way stemmed from the decision to go with veteran Byron Leftwich as the opening-day starter at quarterback and bring rookie Josh Freeman along slowly. A team source said the coaching staff was united in the decision to open with Leftwich.
A team source said conflict had been building since early in training camp over coaches and players not agreeing with Jagodzinski's coaching philosophies and teaching methods.
"This guy was better suited to be a head coach than a coordinator," the team source said. The source also said Jagodzinski was not calling plays in the preseason. That responsibility fell to running backs coach Steve Logan, who was Jagodzinski's offensive coordinator at Boston College.
Another team source said the Bucs will pay Jagodzinski about $1 million on his contract.
Jagodzinski was hired by Morris in January three weeks after a rocky ending to his time as head coach at BC. Against the wishes of BC's administration, Jagodzinski interviewed for the head-coaching vacancy with the New York Jets and was fired the next day, ending his two-season stint in Chestnut Hill.
"I just learned the news. It's unfortunate," Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo said in a statement Thursday. "All of us at Boston College wish Jags and his family the very best."
The Bucs initially viewed the hiring of Jagodzinski and veteran defensive coordinator Jim Bates as positives that would give first-time head coach Morris experience to lean on.
"We wanted to get the dream team together," Morris said. "It just didn't work out."
Olson twice has been a coordinator before. Although there have been reports that Olson interviewed for Tampa Bay's coordinator position when Jagodzinski got the job, the team source said this was not true. Olson was under contract as the quarterbacks coach and was not initially considered for the coordinator position, the source said. The source also confirmed the Bucs refused to let Olson interview for jobs with two other teams in the offseason.
NFL blogger Pat Yasinskas covers the NFC South for ESPN.com.