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Reactions range from outrage to conspiracy

As the search (apparently) returns to square one, fans and commentators struggle to make sense of it all.

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2002

Tampa Bay area Bucs fans on sports-talk radio weren't taking sides on the team's decision Friday not to hire Marvin Lewis as new coach. They seemed more concerned about why the Bucs can't hire anybody, and when the saga, which began with the firing of Tony Dungy on Jan. 14, will end.

"A lot of them are saying, "We can't secure a coach? A team that's won 30 games in three years and they can't secure who they want?' " said former Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley of Scot and Ronnie in the Afternoon on WQYK-AM 1010.

"Stunned would be the perfect word," WDAE-AM 620 sports director Whitney Johnson said of the fans' reaction to Bucs vice presidents Joel, Bryan and Ed Glazer passing on Lewis, the Ravens defensive coordinator. "You keep hearing, "It's a done deal, it's a done deal,' with all these different guys, then, "It's undone, it's undone ... '

"I think most people want somebody to be hired at this point," Johnson said. "Everybody's choice is (Oakland coach Jon) Gruden. But if they can't get him, I think they just want this thing done."

Brantley said he has a scenario worked out, starting with the fact that the Bucs signed former Jets offensive line coach Bill Muir, Bill Parcells' choice to coach the offensive line. After the Bucs fired Dungy and former Florida coach Steve Spurrier signed with the Redskins, Parcells reneged on a deal to come to Tampa Bay.

"Why would (Muir) be the only guy on the staff signed offensively? I don't think the deal with Parcells ever left the burner," Brantley said. "It was put aside over the whole tampering thing, and (Parcells) thought he'd be in the Hall of Fame and he didn't get in. And the whole divorce thing; if he'd signed a contract, his wife probably would've gotten a cut of that. Now if he signs a contract he gets all that money himself. ... I think he's the front-runner (and is) going to come in after the dust has settled.

"I'd give anything for Jon Gruden," Brantley said, "but if (Raiders owner) Al Davis is alive, that ain't gonna happen."

Some callers criticized the way the Glazers have conducted the hunt for the successor to Dungy. "Go back six years," one said. "Look how much they have done for the Bucs. Look how much they've invested to build this team. I really can't believe they don't have a plan."

Others said this episode was just another in a series of Bucs blunders, dating to former owner Hugh Culverhouse refusing to negotiate with Doug Williams, who had quarterbacked the team to three playoff appearances in four seasons, and letting him get away after the 1982 season.

"They hired an RV salesman (Leeman Bennett) when they could have had Wayne Fontes. They hired Ray Perkins when they could have had Spurrier," a caller said. "They wasted a No. 1 draft pick on Bo Jackson even when he said he wouldn't play for them.

"The only time (the Bucs) have showed respectability was when the Glazers kept their mouths shut. ... They're as big an embarrassment as Culverhouse ever was. Does Jon Gruden want to deal with this kind of ownership?"

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