The Buccaneers want everyone to believe that they never wanted to bring back Jon Gruden, and that they chose to keep coach Dirk Koetter based only on merit and expected improvement in 2018.
Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com, who has covered the team for years, isn’t buying it.
“That’s what you want to put out there when you finish second,” Kaufman said during the latest episode of his podcast. “When you go at bat and you strike out.”
Kaufman also spelled out what went down between Gruden, the Buccaneers, and the Raiders, before the Buccaneers decided on Friday afternoon to welcome back Koetter.
“By Friday, Oakland had emerged as a major player, talking to Gruden’s agent,” Kaufman said. “Nobody talks to Gruden directly, everything goes through Gruden’s agent, as it should be. And Gruden’s agent, operating from a position of tremendous strength, tremendous leverage. . . . Here comes Oakland. Mark Davis, Al’s son. And in the discussions with the agent, it’s basically the agent gets the impression, ‘Whatever you guys want. Let’s make this happen. Whatever you want.’ Well, when he gets back to the Glazers and basically says, ‘We have other options, and [a] concrete option in Oakland, and they’re willing to do this, and do this, and do this.’ And I think it reached a point where the Glazers, talking among themselves, the co-chairmen, said, ‘We can’t go that far. We’re not willing to go that far. A stake in the team. $10 million dollars. Total authority. We can’t do it. Doesn’t make any sense.’ So God bless Jon. Good luck. And at that point they reached the same conclusion that I wrote 10 days ago: If you can’t get Gruden, give Koetter another chance. . . . To even suggest that the Bucs had no interest in Jon Gruden coming back to One Buc Place. How naive can you be?”
There are plenty of naive people out there, who believe that the decision to keep Koetter had nothing to do with the failed effort to get Gruden. If they could have gotten Gruden, Koetter would be the one currently looking for work, and Gruden would now be saying he has a “good chance” of joining the Buccaneers.