Smith’s Sense of Calm Is Comfortingly Familiar

by Gary Shelton on November 10, 2014 · 1 comment

in Tampa Bay Bucs

The coach was too quiet. The players didn’t pay enough attention to him.

Already, the suspicion was that his voice had been tuned out. Already, the team was losing around him, and he wasn’t making enough changes to his team or to his scheme. There wasn't enough urgency. Already, there didn’t seem to be a lot of differences in him and the coaches who had come before him.

It was true of Tony Dungy in 1996.

It is true of Lovie Smith in 2014.

flag and sword_Bucs_LAnd so it is that Smith stands calmly amid the chaos. The Bucs continue to lose football games the way they have lost football games for years, without any muscle on defense and without any mind on offense. They seem lost, aimless, in their efforts. They do not seem to know what they are or how to change their fortune.

Meanwhile, Smith asks for patience, which may be the hardest of all things for a Tampa Bay fan who, frankly, has seen a lot more of this mess than he has. His voice does not change. His plans do not alter. His vision is steady.

Odd, but once, it was Dungy with the calm voice and the maddening patience. Back then, it was easy to wonder if the losing bothered him enough.

It seems hard to believe now, because Dungy is the man most responsible for turning around a franchise. It was Dungy who shaped the careers of Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp. It was Dungy who made the playoffs commonplace. It was Dungy who shaped the way the America saw this franchise. Yes, it was Jon Gruden who coached this team to the Super Bowl, but Dungy built the foundation that would lead the Bucs to the title.

Ah, but in that first season, Dungy was just another coach on the trail of tears.

His team lost its first five games. It lost eight of its first nine. Six of those nine games, it failed to score more than 10 points. People kept asking when Dungy was going to get mad, when he was going to blow his top. After all, we had seen how reactionary Sam Wyche could be, and how angry Ray Perkins could be.

Still, Dungy’s voice stayed calm, and he talked about simplicity, and he foretold a better day.

In other words, he sounded a lot like Smith.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Drdneast November 18, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Forgot what the philosopher and/or romantic who said “if I can choose between pain and nothingness, I’ll take pain.”
But I do know between hysterics and calms I would choose calm.

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