We hadn’t heard from Lovie Smith since the Buccaneers fired him in January.
But as he was welcomed to his new job at the University of Illinois, he took a shot at his former owners by noting they had also once fired Tony Dungy, who went onto Indianapolis to complete a Hall of Fame career.
“As far as Tampa Bay, you just have to kind of take it,” Smith said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “You know, there’s a coach going in the Hall of Fame this summer that was also fired by the Buccaneers so you just take it and move on. I’m not saying that in a bad light, that’s just our profession. That happens. When something like that happens, by me leaving there, it gave me this great opportunity to really have an impact on young men’s lives.’’
Smith’s firing took people off guard, not because he was 8-24 in two seasons, but because he had authored a six-game improvement in one season, and things appeared pointing in the right direction with quarterback Jameis Winston on board.
Smith also said he had no plans to go back to the NFL, perhaps feeling a little burned by the way his last job there went.
“I signed a six-year contract. I’m not going anywhere,” Smith said. “This is the start of the third quarter of my football career. This is where I want to finish my football career. So what better commitment I can show everyone that we’re here for the long haul than that.’’
Smith hasn’t coached at the college level since 1995, when he was an assistant at Ohio State. The 57-year-old joked that he’s going to have to become more social-media savvy now.
“I think it’s a misnomer that I’m some old guy that doesn’t know what’s going on right now,” Smith said. “And I can adjust to social media right now. I’ll be able to make that switch fairly easy. I don’t have a Twitter account currently but I will get one.’’
When he does, he can @TonyDungy and the two of them can commiserate about being fired by the Glazer family.