Lovie Smith avoids reflecting on his time in Chicago
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter February 20, 2014 9:36PM
Updated: February 21, 2014 2:35AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Lovie Smith was not in a reflective mood. He never is.
Meeting the media as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Smith endorsed the Bucs’ new logo, compared linebacker Lavonte David to Lance Briggs, said he likes quarterback Mike Glennon but would still draft a quarterback with the seventh pick in the draft and sounded a lot like the Lovie Smith we came to know and love in Chicago.
‘‘We’re a 4-12 football team right now,’’ he said.
But his nine years with the Bears? The Super Bowl? Brian Urlacher? The NFC Championship Game loss to the Green Bay Packers? Getting fired after finishing 10-6 in 2012? It’s almost like it never happened.
‘‘Hey, it’s a Bucs life for me now. My focus is definitely on that,’’ he said, cutting off a question about whether he got a fair shake with the Bears. ‘‘I worked a lot of different places in the past. Would you like to talk about Big Sandy High School? I worked there, too.’’
Indeed he did. But he didn’t work there for nine years. He didn’t take Big Sandy to the Super Bowl. He didn’t get fired at Big Sandy after going 81-63. But that’s one reason why Smith never clicked in Chicago, in good times and in bad. His nine years in Chicago as coach of one of the NFL’s most storied franchises mean the same to him as one season as the defensive coordinator of Big Sandy High School. Texas high school football is big. But it ain’t that big.
‘‘Excited about Tampa and what we’re doing,’’ Smith said. ‘‘My past is — I’ve had an opportunity to work at a lot of great places. Chicago is one of them.’’
Smith did acknowledge — in very general terms — that his nine years in Chicago made him better prepared for his current job. Though as he quickly and enthusiastically added, the year off after getting fired seemed to play an even bigger role.
‘‘Whenever you have a chance to be in a place for nine years, the next place should be easier,’’ Smith said. ‘‘There really hasn’t been anything that has caught me off guard.
‘‘Having a year off helps — I strongly recommend it. If you get fired, take a year off like I did. It’ll help you an awful lot. It has helped. Had a chance to evaluate everything I believe in and came to some of the conclusions that I thought.’’
Smith is one of the more accomplished coaches in the NFL and figures to make an immediate impact with the Buccaneers.
‘‘He’s phenomenal,’’ said Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who was hired after Smith. ‘‘He could probably get along with the devil. He’s really easy to work with. He tells you exactly what he wants in a player, which makes it easy for me and my staff to find players. He brings great energy. He has a respect factor about him that’s pretty rare.’’