The second seat on the NFL coaching carousel has been filled, as word out of multiple NFL outlets Wednesday night states that Lovie Smith will be the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Smith's deal is reportedly for four years with a club option for a fifth year. No dollar figures were released.
Smith follows Houston's hiring of Bill O'Brien on Tuesday. Like O'Brien, Smith-to-Tampa Bay appeared to be in the works for a while, as Smith's name was floated seemingly minutes after the dismissal of Greg Schiano.
Smith is best known for his work as head coach of the Chicago Bears, leading the franchise to an 81-63 record in nine seasons and within 10 points of winning the Super Bowl in 2006. Under Smith, the Bears won three NFC North championships and won 10 or more games four times. For a franchise with one 10-win season in the last eight years, Smith makes perfect sense in Tampa Bay.
Smith took the 2013 season off after his dismissal following the 2012 season - despite posting a 10-6 record.
Prior to his arrival in Chicago, Smith was the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator from 2001-03, helping the Rams appear make a Super Bowl appearance in the 2001 season, and was the Bucs' linebackers coach from 1996-2000. Tampa Bay went 45-35 with Smith on the coaching staff and made three playoff appearances in those five seasons. The rest of Smith's coaching career was spent in the high school and college ranks, where the Big Sandy, Texas, native got his start for three years as a high school assistant before coaching linebackers or defensive backs at Tulsa, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio State.
With the Smith hiring, only Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota and Washington remain open at this time.
As always, we'll have more updates as they become available.