Yes, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith was fired by phone on Wednesday night. No, it wasn’t supposed to happen that way.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, ownership had planned to meet with Smith in person on Thursday. But within the process of communicating the planned meeting to Smith by phone, Smith sensed that something was going on. One thing led to another, and it became clear that the meeting would be the last one he conducted with ownership.
At that point, Smith said he didn’t need to have a meeting. So the termination became official by phone.
Apart from the question of whether someone should have duped Smith into thinking it was a normal meeting or simply given him a “coach wants to see you, and bring your playbook”-style head’s up or simply shown up at his house at 10:00 p.m. with a cake and a canned ham, the point is that the Bucs didn’t set out to fire him by phone. They scheduled the meeting by phone, Lovie started asking questions, and before too long it was obvious what was happening.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how it was communicated. Smith gets more than $10 million over the next two years, and the Bucs will have no trouble filling the job — especially with a 22-year-old potential franchise quarterback on the roster.