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No, Lovie Smith wasn’t the worst coach the Bucs ever had

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Compared to Leeman Bennett, he was an immortal.

Compared to Richard Williamson, he was a man of vision.

So, no, Lovie Smith was not the worst football coach the Bucs have ever had, no matter how often he felt like it over the past two seasons.

In the end, Lovie won eight games out of 32. That isn’t much, but it’s twice what Leeman Bennett won over the same time period. It’s twice what Williamson won, although he only got 19 chances.

Ah, but Greg Schiano had a seven-win season, which Smith never did. Raheem Morris had a 10-win season, although he only won seven others. Ray Perkins won 19, although he also lost 41. So, yeah, the last two seasons under Smith would be particularly ugly.

Ranking the 10 men who have coached Tampa Bay. Warning: Most of them weren’t particularly memorable:

1. Tony Dungy. No, he never won a Super Bowl here. But Dungy was the head coach when the Bucs turned from a laughingstock to a team that mattered. He reached four playoffs, and he won 54 games.

2. Jon Gruden. Gruden won three more games than Dungy (and lost 13 more), and he won a Super Bowl, so a lot of people would vote for him. Gruden inherited a lot more talent than Dungy, however. He reached the playoffs three times.

3. John McKay. The original Bucs coach didn’t win a game in his first 26. But he would eventually get the team to the playoffs three times, including a loss in the NFC title game.

4. Sam Wyche. Wyche had reached the Super Bowl with Cincinnati, but he never got that close here. In all, he was 23-41.

5. Ray Perkins. Perkins came in advertised as Hugh Culverhouse’s “Lombardi.” It didn’t work out that way. Perkins was 19-41.

6. Raheem Morris. Morris had only one decent year, winning 10 games against a weak schedule in 2011.

7. Greg Schiano. Schiano won only 11 games in his two seasons, including a chaotic second season when he cut quarterback Josh Freeman.

8. Lovie Smith. Smith won eight games and squandered millions on free agents Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins and Josh McCown.

9. Richard Williamson. Was hired after going 1-2 as an interim coach, and made it look as foolish as it sounds.

10. Leeman Bennett. He won two games in each of his two seasons, but was surprised when he was fired.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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