- Associated Press - Thursday, January 26, 2012

TAMPA, FLA. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired RutgersGreg Schiano to become the team’s next coach, a person familiar with the negations said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because an official announcement was to come later Thursday, after Schiano met with his team. The person says Schiano’s deal is for five years.

ESPN first reported the Bucs and Schiano were close to a deal.

The 45-year-old Schiano has been with the Scarlet Knights for 11 seasons, taking them from college football laughingstock to a program that has had winning records in six of the last seven years. He was an assistant coach in the NFL with Chicago from 1996-98.

The Bucs fired Raheem Morris on Jan. 2 after a 4-12 finish that included 10 straight losses to end the season, most of them by double-digit margins. The collapse following a promising 4-2 start came only a year after the NFL’s youngest team went 10-6 and narrowly missed the playoffs.


Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said in an earlier e-mail to the AP that “many candidates have been notified that we are moving on.”

The Glazer family that owns the team interviewed at least 10 candidates for the opening, including Oregon’s Chip Kelly, who was offered the position before turning it down earlier this week.

The Bucs also talked to former NFL head coaches Mike Sherman, Brad Childress and Marty Schottenheimer; Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski; Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray; Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer; Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who accepted the head coaching opening with the Miami Dolphins.

An 11th known candidate, ex-Dallas Cowboys coach and current Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, canceled a scheduled interview with the Bucs that would have taken place while the Texans were in the playoffs.

It’s not the first exhaustive search the Glazers have conducted for a coach.

The Bucs pursued Steve Spurrier before hiring Tony Dungy in 1996, then tried to lure Bill Parcells and Steve Mariucci to Tampa Bay before trading two first-round draft picks, as well as a pair of second-rounders and $8 million cash to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for the opportunity to negotiate a contract with Jon Gruden after the 2001 season.

Gruden led the Bucs to their only Super Bowl title the following season, but Tampa Bay hasn’t won a playoff game since. The Glazers fired him three weeks after the Bucs lost the final four games of 2008 to miss the playoffs, and promoted Morris as his successor.

Tampa Bay went 17-31 under Morris, who served as his own defensive coordinator. The Bucs allowed a franchise-record 494 points in 2011, including 31 of more in seven of the last eight games.

In addition to fixing a defense that’s been rebuilt over the past two drafts, getting young quarterback Josh Freeman back on track with be a priority this offseason.

Freeman threw for 25 touchdowns and just six interception in 2010, his second year in the league and his first as a full-time starter. The 24-year-old passed for 16 TDs vs. 22 interceptions this season.

The timing of the move could put Rutgers in a bind with national signing day less than a week away. This is a pivotal time in the recruiting process, with coaches locking up commitments from high school prospects who make those agreements official by signing national letters of intent starting Wednesday.

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