When the Bucs have changed coaches before
Jon Gruden is the 7th head coach in the 31-year history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With increasing speculation over his future, it is interesting to look back at the other six coaches and the reasons surrounding their departure from the position they held.
John McKay 1984
The Bucs' first head coach is the only one not to have been fired. In spite of calls by fans and media alike in 1978 and 1983, the cigar-chomping wise-cracker would probably never have been fired by then-owner Hugh Culverhouse. McKay instead chose to retire at the end of 1984 and announced his decision after a last-second loss to Minnesota in November that year.
It was no secret that he was frustrated by Culverhouse's increasing penny-pinching ways and the fact that he had not been able to sign veteran kicker Jan Stenerud before the start of the season. Stenerud kicked that late fieldgoal for the Vikings and McKay was heard to announce "I don't need this any more" on the sideline and announced his retirement the following morning.
Leeman Bennett 1986
After a pair of 2-14 seasons, Bennett was still somehow expecting to be retained for the following year and apparently had been told so by Hugh Culverhouse. But the owner then changed his mind, fired Bennett just before a press conference at One Buc Place, and then made the now ex-coach sit there for 20 minutes before announcing it to everyone else.
Ray Perkins 1990
After a pair of false dawns early in both 1989 and 1990, Perkins' team was sitting at 4-8 and a six-game losing streak when the disciplinarian coach had a row with the local media about his future on the way back from a game with the Packers. Despite beating the Falcons 23-17 to end the skid, Perkins admitted to The Orlando Sentinel, "I think I'm gone" and for once in his four years, he was absolutely spot on. Culverhouse sacked him the following morning and ended up giving the job to stand-in coach Richard Williamson at the end of the 1990 season after the latter went 1-2 over the final three games.
Richard Williamson 1991
And having presided over a 3-13 season in which the Bucs' locker room was totally out of control, Culverhouse let Williamson go a year into his two-year contract. After the strict nature of Ray Perkins, Richard Williamson was seen to be the "good cop" to Perkins' "bad cop" mentality. What transpired was the likes of Broderick Thomas and Jesse Solomon doing whatever they wanted in the locker room and the team went downhill with them.
Sam Wyche 1995
He probably should have gone the year before but a four-game winning streak at the end of 1994 kept him around for another year, and the Glazer family did not want to start their ownership by immediately sacking the coach (in spite of what some of those Shareholder United morons tried to have the British media believe). By the end of 1995, the Bucs might have been 7-9, but all of the players hated Wyche, all of the media hated him and all of the fans hated him. Hence he was out three days after the season finale against Detroit.
Tony Dungy 2001
I called his final game live on Sky Sports and spent most of the fourth quarter saying he was out as coach. Dungy had done a fantastic job in the re-building of the franchise from the ruins of the mid 1990s but the team was going backwards and was going to waste one of the best defenses in the NFL. There was a limited window of opportunity for the team to win and it was not going to happen with Tony in charge. Of course he immediately got a job in Indianapolis and Jon Gruden won the Super Bowl the following year for the Buccaneers.
Paul Stewart, December 2006