Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht met the media on Thursday afternoon and called Wednesday one of the most challenging days of his career because of the decision to fire head coach Lovie Smith.
Licht said that he spoke to Smith on the phone to give him some advance warning about what would happen at a Thursday meeting with ownership and, as reported earlier, Smith figured that it wasn’t worth coming into the office to be fired face to face. Smith then spoke to co-chairman Joel Glazer and the move was made.
While discussing the reasons for the firing, Licht said that it was not an “emotional decision,” but the result of “very thoughtful” evaluation that left ownership feeling that the “franchise needed a new face.” Licht said he didn’t want to delve into the details of that evaluation and what the negatives were with Smith. He did say he didn’t think making a coaching change after two years was a sign of impatience on the part of the organization.
“When you have eight wins, and three home wins, in two years, you’ve been patient enough,” Licht said.
Licht said that the decision was not influenced by outside interest in hiring offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who he called one of the many quality football coaches that the team will consider as their next head coach. Licht said that other teams have contacted Tampa about interviewing Koetter for their head coaching openings and that they’re obligated to accept those requests, but that the team doesn’t feel that they are in a “tug of war” for Koetter’s services.
Licht also said that he now has control over the 53-man roster, although he allowed for wiggle room about responsibilities based on the coach that the team winds up hiring at the end of their current search.