The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ locker room is literally infected with a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria called MRSA. But if you ask the players, the worst thing about their locker room is still Greg Schiano.
With New York’s victory over Minnesota, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only two winless teams in the NFL. The Jaguars will forever be plagued by whispers of Tim Tebow, but the Buccaneers have a much more systemic problem within their organization: everybody hates Schiano.
Michael Silver of NFL.com recently spoke to current and former members of Schiano’s 2012 and 2013 squads. The former Rutgers University head coach was hired in 2012 to give some structure to a locker room that some say got a little too loose under former coach Raheem Morris. Schiano apparently went off the deep end when it came to exercising his power as a head coach, though, to the point that nearly every player on the Bucs no longer recognizes his authority.
“How bad is it there? It’s worse than you can imagine,” says a former player of Schiano’s. “It’s like being in Cuba.”
Stories of Schiano’s quick temper and terseness with players and staff pop up regularly. Silver recalls an incident in 2012 when Schiano berated special team’s coach Bob Ligashesky for walking onto the wrong part of the field during a practice. There were also reports that Schiano would search players’ lockers and video tape the sidelines during games in order to catch any players not taking their winless season seriously enough.
A particularly puzzling moment for Tampa Bay players came in the summer of 2012, when the New England Patriots shared some practice time with the Bucs. In the presence of his idol, Bill Belichick, the normally autocratic Schiano became weak in the knees,
“He gathered us before we practiced and told us that if Belichick said something to us on the field, we should listen,” a current player says. “He said, ‘Treat their coaches like they’re your coaches.’ We were like, ‘Huh?’ When we practiced together, whatever Belichick wanted, he did. It was hilarious — here [Schiano] is, acting like Mr. Tough Guy all the time, and when Belichick wanted something, he was like, ‘Yes, Bill.’”
Former Buc and current Seahawk Michael Bennett describes Schiano’s near-groveling of the New England coach.
“He’s trying to be Belichick. Yeah, some people think Belichick’s an [expletive], but he’s a legend. When this guy acts that way, it’s a whole different deal.”
Schiano and Belichick have developed a fairly close relationship over the years, with current Patriots Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan having played under Schiano at Rutgers. But the success Belichick has enjoyed over the years makes it much easier for his players to buy into his schemes and systems, while Schiano has seven wins to his name as an NFL coach.
Tampa Bay plays a similarly struggling Carolina team on Thursday night. While its clear Tampa will not be extending the Greg Schiano show for another season, his dismissal could come as soon as this week.