When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Greg Schiano from Rutgers to replace Raheem Morris as their head coach on Jan. 27, words like "structured," "organized" and "disciplined," were used to describe Schiano by Mark Dominik, the team's general manager. When it was his time to take the podium at his introductory press conference, Schiano added "trust, belief and accountability'' as key concepts in his coaching arsenal.
And while there's absolutely no reason to question his adherence to such things, Schiano's newest hire, and the position it creates, raise some serious questions. The Buccaneers announced on Monday that former University of Miami, North Carolina and Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis would be joining the organization as a "special assistant." According to the team, Davis won't do any actual coaching.
Because if he did, he might be in jeopardy of losing some or all of the $2.7 million severance package he got from North Carolina after he was fired in July of 2011. You see, if Davis takes a job as a coach, that violates the terms of the severance agreement.
Davis received $933,000 of the buyout before the end of 2011, and he is scheduled to receive three additional annual payments of $590,000 starting next January. Any income he receives from an official coaching position would offset those payouts. So, this amounts to a nice little end-around for Davis and the Bucs.
Davis was fired after a series of financial and academic scandals forced the school to suspend a huge number of starters in 2010, and eventually vacate all its wins for the 2008 and 2009 seasons for playing with players later deemed ineligible. Thirteen players were suspended for the team's 2010 season opener against LSU, and three players -- WR Greg Little, DT Marvin Austin and DE Robert Quinn -- were ruled permanently ineligible after it was revealed that they took improper benefits from agents.
While I've long been on record that players should be allowed to accept benefits under controlled circumstances for the money they bring into major programs like UNC (especially when coaches like Davis are allowed to play fast-and-loose with the rules without suffering any real penalties), that's far from the point in this case. Davis took a new job after proving that, at the very least, he had no control over his own team with his old one. At the very worst, he knew all about it and did nothing. And in taking his new job, he went with a position that allowed him to use the university whose team he mismanaged as an ad hoc annuity distributor.
In that light, Schiano's meeting with the Tampa print media on the 30th brought forth a quote that seems even more interesting after the Davis hire.
"We'll have one unified message as an organization. Accountability doesn't work unless it's consistent. You give a very clear vision and a clear expectation. Most anger and frustration comes out of unmet expectations. If you can give clear vision and expectations, it's up to the players and coaches. It doesn't work unless there's consequences ... that's human nature.''
This is another good one, from the same session:
"As a kid, I was always best when I knew where the boundaries were. When you don't know where the boundaries are, you just start drifting and all of a sudden, you're in a bad place and you don't know how you got there. When they hit the boundaries, there's a consequence. Sometimes that consequence can drive someone away. That's the unfortunate part of it.''
So, at least on the surface, Schiano seems like the last in the world to hire a guy like Davis, who was booted out of a program in disgrace. When you're trying to establish institutional control at the NFL level, why not only hire a guy who can't maintain it in the NCAA, but give him a title that clearly allows him to partake of a bloated severance package under questionable ethical guidelines?
Well, Schiano worked on Davis' staff at the University of Miami, back when Davis was trying to clean up a similar mess dredged up by Dennis Erickson. It's Old Home Week for Schiano, but if he's really preaching a dogma of "trust, belief and accountability," he should probably start enforcing that with the guy he just hired.