“Good afternoon. Last week, we asked Jason [Licht] to oversee the process of finding the new head football coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I can say that all his vast football experience came through in the way that he carefully thought about the situation and then, at the end, very clearly was able to articulate his reasons for his recommendation of Dirk Koetter.
“In football it’s always very refreshing to see somebody who’s worked very hard for a very long time, [who is] dedicated and had a lot of success, get promoted to be a head coach in the National Football League. Dirk’s success with us last year – and with all the other team’s that he’s been with – is proven. [He has] a proven track record; well-documented. That’s why we collectively believe that Dirk is the right man to move this team forward and make this community proud.
“With that, I’m going to have Jason come up and talk a little bit about some of the decision-making.”
GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT
“Good afternoon. When I was charged by Joel, Bryan and Ed, the Glazer family, to oversee the process and the search [for a head coach], I drew from some experiences to figure out what the key attributes are of a great football coach, and I’ve been around several. Some of these [attributes], not excluding – there’s a big checklist, but some of the key ones were that we wanted a leader who could get the most out of his players. We wanted an experienced teacher, because all football coaches at the core should be great teachers and develop their players and maximize their talents. Most importantly, we wanted somebody that would establish a winning culture that eventually would bring championships to Tampa. In Dirk Koetter were all those things.
“The results of Dirk, his resume, speak for themselves. [In 2015] we had a Top 5 offense for the first time in the history of the Tampa Bay Bucs. We had, historically, the best offense in the history of the Tampa Bay Bucs, 40 years. But the most impressive thing about him was the way he did it his first year with a very young team and some late offseason or early preseason additions, he was able to mold this into a very good offense under some normally difficult circumstances.
“He’s got over 30 years of NFL and college experience in coaching. Coaching is in his blood. He told us in the interview process that one of his goals in life was to be his father, who was a very, very successful high school coach who went on to coach college as well.
“He wanted to be a coach since he was six years old. Coaching is definitely in his blood and the competitiveness is in his family with their sports background. Great family – they’re here today. It’s been great to get to know them a little bit better now.
“Those qualities are the primary reasons that we collectively came together and I came with my recommendation to hire Dirk Koetter. So it [is] my distinct pleasure to introduce the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dirk Koetter.”
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
“I appreciate everybody being here today. It’s emotional on a day like this. It’s one of the happiest days of my life, but also one of the most humbling. [It’s been] a long time in the making. I have to start off by thanking the people that helped me get there. First off, my family, who are here today: my wife, Kim, my oldest daughter, Kaylee, and my youngest son, Davis. Two of our kids, Kendra and Derek, could not be with us today because, hopefully, they are attending class at Georgia Southern and the University of Missouri.
“Next, I have to thank my parents, Jim and Barb. Pocatello, Idaho. I know they are probably watching right now and if you only knew the things that they instilled in me along the way that led up to today – it’s an amazing journey, it really is.
“Next, the Glazers, for bestowing this responsibility and this honor on me. I thank you very much.
“Jason Licht – this club is in great hands with the direction that Jason gives to the personnel side. This team is heading in the right direction. I know we have the players behind us and the fans behind us. We’re going to need everyone to get there.
“I want to thank all the players and coaches on every stop along the way. All 34 years: junior high, high school, Division II, small college, major college, NFL. Believe me when I say that I took bits and pieces from every player and every coach along the way. I’ve been unbelievably blessed to be around some great ones.
“To the fans, I hope that you’re with me and you’re with Jason and you’re with the Glazers when we tell you that this franchise is heading in the right direction. Easy to say, harder to do, because competition in this league is the best-of-the-best every week, every week. I’m fully aware of that. I’m ready for the responsibility, ready for the challenge. It’s going to be a heck of a journey, but we’ve got some great guys with us along the way and can’t wait to roll them up and get started.”
(On what he expects the transition to being a head coach will be like)
“I think the transition is going to be a new learning experience every day. When I became a head college football coach, I thought it was my dream of a lifetime to be a head college coach. What you realize is, even though you’ve been working a long time to get to that position, you have to make decisions every day that you weren’t prepared for. I’m sure the nine years I spent as a college head coach will serve me well as I make this transition. But I don’t have all the answers and I know that I’m going to be learning things every day. I look forward to the challenge. One of the best things you can do is surround yourself with a great staff and trust your gut, and I plan to do both.”
(On how he plans to delegate duties, particularly when it comes to working with quarterback Jameis Winston)
“Roles are going to have to be juggled around a little bit, but there’s already a model that exists in the NFL for the head coach as a play caller. I will continue to be the play caller for the Bucs. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into football. One of my favorite parts of football is the strategy and the game management part, the play calling part. So I think I’d be foolish to give that up. With that said, that’s going to cause some juggles and some reorganization within the staff, but that’s one of the great things about taking over a program [where] I was already here for a year is that I worked hand-in-hand with those guys on the offensive staff. The majority of those guys are going to continue on with me. We’ve got a great group. When I said surround yourself with a good staff, we’re already off to a terrific start.”
(On whether he has already been planning his coaching staff and what changes might take place)
“Of course I have [been in touch with possible additions to the coaching staff]. When it became clear that I was going to be a candidate for a couple of different teams here in the offseason, that’s just how it’s done. You start working on building your staff. There are a lot of unknowns and what-ifs based on how the scenarios play out, who’s under contract, who’s not under contract, but the majority of the offensive staff will be returning. There will be some changes, as I said, some role changes. The defensive staff is taking shape very quickly, and I’m really happy to announce today that we’ve come to terms with our defensive coordinator, Mike Smith. It’s a huge hire for us.”
(On how he will deal with players who are hurt by former Head Coach Lovie Smith’s dismissal)
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little hurt that Lovie’s not here. There’s nothing wrong with being hurt. It’s not the first or last time we’re going to be let down in our lives or be hurt. In dealing with the players in any level, players just want to know the truth. They just want you to tell it like it is. Most guys can live with that. It won’t be the same for everybody. Everybody’s going to handle that a little bit different. I’m confident that I can put forth where the Bucs are headed and I’m sure that we can get those guys on board pretty quickly. Most players that I’ve come across are incredibly resilient. Once they know the direction you’re headed, they’re quick to get on board.”
(On if his personality will remain the same now that he is the head coach)
“Well I hope so, but the people – I see a lot more faces in the crowd today than are at my normal Wednesday [offensive coordinator press conference], where we like to keep a few secrets and tell a few jokes – there are more faces in the room today. There are certain things a head coach can’t say. It is how it is. It’s that way in your business; it’s that way in my business. I’m going to do my best to be the same guy, be consistent every day – easier said than done. When I can tell you, I’ll tell you. When I can’t, I’ll just have to tell you I can’t. I’m going to do my best. All my closest friends in coaching – and I have a lot of them at this level – they all give you the same advice: to be yourself. That’s what I intend to do.”
(On interviewing with other teams and if Tampa Bay was where he wanted to end up)
“Absolutely, this is where I wanted to be, this is where my family wanted to be. I know what kind of players we’ve got, so I’m excited about that. There were other teams involved, but there’s no use in even talking about that. Everybody gets who they want, you end up where you’re supposed to end up. It always works out how it’s supposed to. I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
(On having someone on staff with the head coaching experience, like Mike Smith)
“Experience counts a ton in this league. The NFL is an experience league. Back in 2007, my first year in the NFL – [in] Jacksonville [with] Head Coach Jack del Rio – Mike Smith was the defensive coordinator. I was fortunate enough to be the offensive coordinator. We were both in the press box that year. I’d never seen anybody like Mike Smith before. We had a good year, but we lost to New England, at New England, in the second round of the playoffs. Mike was hired by the Falcons the next year. We were never as good after we lost Mike Smith in Jacksonville. Fortunately I was able to work for Mike, as a head coach for three years in Atlanta and to get a coach with Mike’s experience, not only as a defensive coordinator, as a teacher, as a head coach, but as a man, as the right kind of guy we want in front of our players every day, I couldn’t be happier.”
(On what changed to make him want to be head coach, after having previously said it wasn’t on his ‘bucket list’)
“I spoke from the heart when I told you that. I had the greatest job in the world. Through the powers that be, it got bumped up a little bit. Going to back to my parents, my parents always told me, ‘You do a great job where you’re at, you do a great job in the role you’re in, you play your role, you do what you’re supposed to do and the rest works itself out.’ I didn’t lie when I told you that. There’s 32 of these jobs in the world. I know I can do the job, even though I’m whimpering around up here a little bit today. I’m a little bit tougher than I’ve been coming across so far. I’m ready for it. Like I said, I appreaciate the opportunity. Nothing that is said here today is going to affect us one bit in wins and losses. That all comes later. There’s a lot of work to be done to get to the wins and losses part. Let’s all keep that in mind. Today is, as I said, a happy, humbling, emotional day. The hard work that leads to the W’s and the L’s is still to come.”
(On what it means to earn a head coaching job and what led to his emotions)
“I don’t know why, it just came out. I’m not sure why. It came out, I wasn’t planning it, but it came out. Does it mean more? You know, when you’re a coach, whether you’re coaching little league, junior high – those games all mean something to me. When we tee it up, it’ll mean a lot, but they all mean a lot. Every chance you get to go out there and compete, especially in this league, is huge. We’ll be anxious for those opportunities.”
(On the support he receives from his family)
“You know, the NFL is big business and the greatest game in the world. Fantastic game, I’m so fortunate to be part of it. The involvement of the fans and the media, the way our players and coaches are followed, year-round, it’s really incredible. Everybody loves to talk about who’s going where, who’s hired, who’s fired – you forget about these guys over here [coaches’ families]. There’s a bunch of them out there, they just all have different faces. From coaches that are coming, coaches that are going, families that have to move, buying and selling houses, kids changing schools. At our house, a family meeting usually meant, ‘Pack your suitcase.’ It meant, ‘Mom is throwing away half your keepsakes – because she doesn’t hoard anything. We’re not taking much with us, we can travel light. But as Kaylee said, this family meeting was a good one. We’re staying in Tampa.”
(On how much his working relationship with quarterback Jameis Winston will change)
“It will change some, it has to. But I love being involved with the quarterback, that’s my No. 1 area of expertise, working with the quarterback. We are tremendously blessed here to have a young guy named Mike Bajakian on our staff, who, when it’s coming out of my mouth or coming out of his mouth, they could be the same. We’ve got a quarterback – we’ve got more than one quarterback – but especially our lead guy in Jameis, who wants to be coached, who is eager to be here. It will have to change a little bit, but trust me I’ll be spending plenty of time with Jameis.”
(On if Mike Bajakian will be the offensive coordinator)
“That’s premature at this time, but Mike will have a major, major role, however those titles roll off.”
(On what lessons he and Mike Smith learned from their time in Atlanta)
“I don’t think we can change who we are. I don’t think we can compromise our princples and our values and our beliefs. We always say, ‘You’ve got a plan and you’ve got to work your plan.’ That’s what we’ll try to do.”
(On if he sees himself as a ‘players coach’)
“Well, you’d have to talk to the players about that. I would describe myself as a football coach. As Jason mentioned in his introduction, I grew up wanting to be my dad, from the time I was very little. My dad coached every sport – football, basketball, track – I saw what that was like, from the time I was tiny. That meant, in those days, that was lining the fileds, cutting the grass, fixing the helmets, washing the uniforms, 16 millimeter film on the kitchen table, long, hard days, JV games, varsity games, weight room, teaching guys how to squat, buried in a basement, playbooks, notepads, napkins, plays all over the place. Every coaching book ever written was in our basement. I’m a football coach.”