The simplest explanation for the firing of Lovie Smith by the Buccaneers does indeed seem to be the accurate one.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Dolphins had requested permission to interview Tampa offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
This fits with the notion, as reported by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, that the Bucs dumped Smith in order to promote Koetter. If it happens, it would be the second time in seven years the Bucs fired a head coach for someone from the head coach’s staff.
(Memo to all future Bucs coaches: Don’t hire a staff.)
In 2009, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris got the promotion, and Jon Gruden got the boot. That move happened immediately, since Morris could be hired without other interviews, under the Rooney Rule. If the plan is to promote Koetter, the Bucs will be required to first interview a minority candidate for the job.
This could, in theory, prompt minority candidates to decline to be interviewed. That’s typically not how it works, however.
Assistant coaches who hope to become head coaches aren’t in the habit of denying opportunities to interview, even if they know that they have little or no chance of getting the job. If nothing else, the mere fact of the interview injects the candidate’s name into the head-coaching conversation, putting him on the radar for future interviews that would be something more than a check-the-box sit-down.
For Koetter to get the job in Tampa, the Rooney Rule box must first be checked. Once it is, the Bucs will be free and clear to hire from within. Again.