The Greg Schiano era has come to an end after two underwhelming seasons, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are once again in the hunt for a new coach. While it's obviously early in the search process, several names have already surfaced, and we've sifted through the rumor mill to find the coaches most likely to take over in Tampa. As things stand, these are the top five options to replace Schiano:
5. Ken Whisenhunt, San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator
Whisenhunt used to be considered an offensive wizard, and his Arizona Cardinals made it all the way to the Super Bowl in just his second year in charge. His reputation was blemished when the Cardinals missed the playoffs three years in a row, and Wisenhunt was summarily dismissed. Now an offensive coordinator for the Chargers, Whisenhunt would relish the chance to show his Super Bowl appearance wasn't a fluke. Tampa is interested, but there are several names higher on their list.
4. Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator
The 49ers OC is getting a lot of looks from around the league, and he's seen as one of the best coordinators out there. Roman is definitely on Tampa's radar, and he'll likely be interviewed as soon as he becomes available. The only thing standing in Roman's way (which also works against other coordinators currently coaching in the playoffs) is that he may not be available to interview until after the 49ers season is over - and there's a solid chance that the Bucs will find someone else by the time that happens.
3. Darrell Bevell, Seattle Seahawks Offensive Coordinator
The Bucs have requested permission from the Seahawks to interview Bevell, who has eight years of experience as an OC. Bevell is widely considered one of the top coaching prospects out there, and it's only a matter of time before he becomes someone's head coach. Like Roman, he might not be free for an interview for another few weeks, and while Tampa Bay could be his first stop as an NFL head coach, there are still two guys with a better shot at the job.
2. Gary Kubiak, former Houston Texans Head Coach
The Bucs will also be interviewing Gary Kubiak in the next few days. Kubiak has a 61–64 record as a head coach, and he had led the Texans to two straight AFC Divisional playoff appearances before a 2-11 start to the 2013 season led to his dismissal.
1. Lovie Smith, former Chicago Bears Head Coach
Lovie Smith is being linked with most of the major vacancies, but the Bucs are in pole position to land the former NFL Coach of the Year. Smith spent four years as Tampa's linebackers coach in the late '90's, and would reportedly be happy to return to the Bucs. While Tampa will seriously consider Kubiak, Bevell and others, Smith is the undisputed leader at this point in the race.
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