A Crossroads For The Bucs Franchise?

December 27th, 2011

These are interesting times for Bucs fans. Some would say the franchise is at a crossroads.

The Bucs are in the midst of a grotesque nine-game tailspin with no end in sight, one that very well may cost embattled Bucs coach Raheem Morris his job.

One reason why Morris may be jettisoned is struggling ticket sales, which judging by the outcry of angry fans begging for Morris’ head on a platter would drop significantly if he returns in 2012.

The lack of ticket sales was indirectly touched upon by Peter King of Sports Illustrated today in an interesting answer to why the Bengals — in a playoff race themselves — cannot sell out a home game.

“Love the column, keep up the great work! Why do you think the Bengals can’t fill their stadium in the midst of a playoff run? You spent time in Cincy – do the fans just not care that much for Bengals football? I vaguely remember in the late 80’s it was a very difficult place to play, the jungle and all. The stadium is in a great spot on the river…are the fans just gone given how bad the nineties were to them? Seems odd compared to a city like Detroit who went through a similar dry spell and are now packing their stadium.”
— Josh, of Chicago

My gut feeling is they have Mike Brown fatigue. The fans don’t trust Brown is doing everything he can to build a winner (Carson Palmer didn’t either), and many are staying away in protest until Brown sells the team. Which, by the way, will happen on the 12th of Never.

This is a very, very interesting point for Joe.

Bad, good or indifferent, right or wrong, many Bucs fans are suspicious of Team Glazer (partially because of that damned English kickball team). This paranoia is currently whipped up daily by certain sports radio hosts that, in so many words, short of throwing open the gates of the football stadium on Dale Mabry Highway to the masses for free, suggest Team Glazer is evil incarnate and fans should start looking for another NFL team to support.

Joe simply doesn’t get that rationale at all. The NFL is a business and it isn’t the Florida State League where tickets are next to nothing and hot dogs and beer are sold for $1, much less a beer league softball team playing in a park in south Tampa for anyone to watch free.

Tickets to NFL games are expensive. They exist so the owners can make cash. That isn’t going to change anytime in the near future in any NFL market.

It’s called “capitalism.” No different than plunking down $70+ to see Van Halen. Or taking out a mortgage to go to Disney World.

This “fatigue” that King speaks of may be real in this market, and a potential real problem for Team Glazer. Joe is convinced that one reason the Rays don’t draw is because that scumbag Vince Naimoli so poisoned this market, that it turned a good chunk of the populace off baseball for good.

No matter the Rays making the playoffs three times since Naimoli was forced by Major League Baseball to give up control of the team, including a World Series appearance, the Rays are still swimming upstream from the damage Naimoli inflicted upon this market.

Joe has lived in a couple of areas where the locals had “fatigue” for owners. The first was Bill Bidwill, he of the 59 years without a playoff win. When anyone tries to tell Joe how Satanic they think Team Glazer is, Joe just laughs and asks them if they have ever heard the name “Bill Bidwill?”

Fans in St. Louis literally just gave up on Bidwill and, when he announced he was looking to move (sort of a shot across the bow in hopes of a new stadium,) it was met with a big shrug of the shoulders and applause in some circles.

When Joe worked in Chicago, Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz did his best to kill hockey in the Second City, and very nearly did. Only the diehard facepainters went to games; the Blackhawks were easily the fifth rung on the sports ladder in Chicago and maybe even sixth below the University of Illinois and Notre Dame basketball teams.

The local AHL club there nearly drew as many fans as the Blackhawks it had gotten so bad.

Only until Wirtz died did the city of Chicago embrace the NHL once again as it had for decades.

Combined with the lack of Bucs ticket sales (mostly due to the economy, let’s not be naive here), the outcry for the ouster of Morris and the prevalent if not misguided suspicion of Team Glazer, the Bucs may very well be at a crossroads next week. That is the corner Team Glazer finds itself painted into. If the unpopular Morris and his assistants are retained, Joe fears the Bucs are on the verge of being a victim of “fatigue,” and it will take years if not decades to recover.

We live in an era where people can change allegiances at the drop of a hat. We live in a fast-food, instant-gratification, fantasy football, free agency mindset. A growing segment of sports fans demand change now, or they will change their emotions (and dollars) to another team, via sports bars and DirecTV.

Sadly, this mindset is allergic to how Team Glazer is trying to build a lasting winner, the same way the Packers and Steelers have.

23 Responses to “A Crossroads For The Bucs Franchise?”

  1. eric Says:

    When was it that Green Bay and Pittsburg went through this kind of horrific performance in the thrid year of a “rebuilding plan”?

  2. Chiman Says:

    They didn’t.

    Fire Morris and his staff. Bring in a teacher and disciplinarian. Get three impact free agents and keep drafting like they have been.

    The team’s not that far away once Freeman gets a new jolt of confidence with a new coaching staff. He has too many bad habits this season to allow them to continue indefinitely with this staff. That’s reason No. 1 to end Raheem’s days. If Freeman was thriving (which would have meant another 2 or three wins), nobody would be having his conversation. But it’s his regression alone that should doom Raheem and Olson.

  3. TurnThePage Says:

    Large mellons?

  4. Patrick Says:

    Raheem does not deserve ALL of the blame here. They need to consider firing Mark Dominick, because no matter who the head coach is, he’s still gonna be the one building this roster and making the bad decisions.

    Some have said that we should keep Raheem but just upgrade the talent along wit the coaching staff during the offseason and then we’ll be fine.

    Well, Dominick hasn’t signed free agents during his first three offseasons as a GM, what makes you think he’ll be any different this offseason? HUH?

    Remember when some of you were so confident we’d bring in some free agents last offseason? And then……NOTHING, NADA happened.

    This is what it’s about now. Confidence. I have little to no confidence that he’ll change he’ll alter his dumb philosophy and make our roster better this offseason. Then pretty soon, he’ll cause another coach to get fired.

    Raheem sucks….I’m not defending him at all. I’m just saying that it’s not all his fault. This team might only have 2-3 more wins max with another coach. The games would definitely be closer, but we still wouldn’t be a playoff team. Our roster is pathetic.

  5. bucfansouth Says:

    Real talk: Raheem has been a horrible coach this season and players have regressed. He’s also got no track record to fall back on. The Glazers can see this and will shake his hand and wave good bye. It was worth trying with Raheem, who was a hot young coach. No harm. No fould. If he’s back, I will be one of those fatigue fans. Don’t ask me to invest when everyone knows the coach blows.

  6. Bobby Says:

    Another well thought out article met with rabid insanity……

  7. Garv Says:

    Prove it “Team Royal Glazerbaum.” Show the fans in Tampa you give a damn and don’t go back to London for a “home” game for another 30 years. Get people who can serve hot dogs and cokes in a reasonable amount of time and can deal with the season ticket discount without falling apart. Cease being the lowest team in the NFL under the CAP when there are so many needs. Sign players who want to be here long term, long term.

    Make us believe the Buccaneers are NOT third in priority behind money and the soccer team in Europe.

    Trust me guys, I WANT to believe!!!!!!!!!

    Happy New Year!!!

  8. AtlBucsFan Says:

    I believe the Glazers want a winner. They are business men and they know that winning brings fans, fans bring money and their wallets expand. Simple as that. They need to stick to the plan on building talent on the field. They also need to bring talent to the sidelines. That part of the plan they gambled on and lost. Let’s keep the plan, draft smart and improve the coaching staff. For me that means that Raheem, at a minimum, needs to move off the HC position because the opportunity to develop leaders on the field of play is beyond his current set of skills. Bring in someone that can do that, let Raheem learn from them and then you have many years of staff personnel that know how to manage the entire process of developing a product and putting it on the field.

    Case in point, the Dungy tree. His staff was deep in talent (except for maybe the OC) and those men have moved on to better places because of their talent. The Glazers need to do that rebuilding as well.

  9. bucfanjeff Says:

    The only flaw in our rebuilding plan is the oversight of how valuable veterans are to mentor young players. I’m all for rebuilding a few years back, but adding some veteran leadership is a must. I think they know this know – more than ever – and you’ll see some sprinkled in the mix next year for Morris and his new staff.

  10. bucfanjeff Says:

    know this now

  11. Rob in Orlando Says:

    The Bucs thought they were brilliant when they picked up Morris just before he was to interview for the Broncos as their prospective head coach. Just because he was best friends with Mike Tomlin, and had coached briefly under Dungy as a position coach, they thought they made the correct inexpensive gamble on Morris as head coach. Year one stunk, but that was expected. Year two overachieved where the Bucs played with wreckless abandon, won almost every close game, played a non playoff team schedule, and surprised many with their effort and feistiness. Year three, everything went wrong. No offseason program (we desperately needed)countless boneheaded penalties and undisciplined play, Freeman has no confidence and is highly inaccurate, making telegraphed throws like he was uncoached, defense imploded under Raheem, no tackling, terrible coverage, no LEADERS on either side of the ball. We need vet FA, and a new experienced head coach with experienced defensive and offensive coordinators. Go Bucs! Thanks for your services Raheem, good luck in your future endeavors. As to the Cheapsters, spend some money and fix this nightmare, stop being so darn cheap or you will be playing in front of yourselves.

  12. Bucnjim Says:

    This really is a great article! It makes perfect sense and it shows how pro sports are now being looked upon. As a kid; going to a game was considered entertainment. Now it’s more like a debt! Having season tickets for 19 years; it got to the point where as soon as the season ended we’d have to start saving for the following year. When fan’s have so much money and loyalty invested in a team; the expectations get very high. All year I’ve been looking at stadiums across the NFL and most of them less than 75% capacity. I’m not interested in the fact that some corporation picked all those tickets up; fan’s in general are losing interest at a very fast pace. At least the interest in going to the games that is!

  13. Niko (The Optimist) Says:

    I WANT to believe that the Glazer brothers are going to run this team just like their dad did, with them as assistants. But I won’t until March when I see if they spend some money on players finally. Perhaps they bought into this YOUTH ONLY movement, or created it. Thats fine, but by now they must see it doesn’t work.

    Look, No one is giving the Glazers any credit for what they have done. They spent BOATLOADS of money to bring us a Superbowl, problem most readers today weren’t even Bucs fans back then, so they have a “what have they done for me lately” attitude.

  14. chiodo08 Says:

    I am so sick and tired of being compared to markets that are literally homogeneous….

    point 1:…raise your hand if you know ANYONE that moved to Detroit or Green Bay for the life style….Tampa bay is a virtual melting pot of every ugly state in the nation…you might know 1 of 10 people born and raised in Tampa Bay and 1 in 100 that is 3rd generation…i live with one and even she(who is not a sports fan) can see that the Bucs “don’t try hard”…

    point 2:…compare our weather which is friggan glorious in the fall and winter after a brutal 9 months to Buffalo or Green Bay…are you telling me that with that product that has literally quit from the top down is worth our Sundays?….get over yourselves

    point 3: Some say we’re fair whether…I say we are savvy enough to know when we’re getting ripped off…and considering we are top five in housing depreciation and unemployment. Tampa Bay will no longer get taken for granted by an ownership that paid peanuts for a team, pays no taxes and squeezed every shady dime out of once sports thirsty community…that is now worth nearly a billion while they OBVIOUSLY pull money from to pay off the debt for Man U..

    Sorry but if that makes us bad fans…then SO BE IT….suckers do as suckers be…and the way I see it…Tampa ain’t no suckers….

  15. TheProsUseAdvoCare Says:

    @Garv How could you ever believe it would ever be about anything other than money? What the heck do you think a business is?

    People are so unrealistic when it comes to their football team of choice. This isn’t a story book. This is a business. If you don’t like their product, don’t buy it.

  16. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Garv Says:
    December 27th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Prove it “Team Royal Glazerbaum.” Show the fans in Tampa you give a damn and don’t go back to London for a “home” game for another 30 years.

    Why? So we can have yet another game blacked out because Tampa fans suck when it comes to supporting this team?

  17. Jon in Tampa Says:

    Great article Joe.

    Glazers will never be able to prove the doubters unless another trophy comes home. Well, there are 31 teams each year the fall short. It takes alot to build a champion. And you have to hope all the moving pieces gel together at the right time to reach the top. It’;s not easy (ask the Eagles).

    I’d hate to think the Bucs would like to bring Rah back for another year if not for the fan and media outcry. It is so obvious that Rah needs to go, and many position coaches. We don’t know if Dominick opted out of any free agesthat if Dominick it tossed, he made the choice.

  18. Wade Says:

    Check out fieldofschemes, once you do, you’ll realize what a sham professional sports is.

  19. Garv Says:

    I highly doubt there are ANY season ticket holders in favor of the Bucs playing a “home” game in London. And if you are suggesting it’s a good thing because you can watch it on television than you simply do not matter or count at all.

    I KNOW it’s a business but I’m a FAN! I expect owners to CARE about the people who support thieir team, to give more of a damn about their NFL team than a stupid boring SOCCER team that plays in Europe. I EXPECT owners to try and put the best product on the field for their season ticket base, for the people to paid for the stadium, for Tampa Bay.

    Now if some of you do not? Like I typed before, your opinion does not matter at all to me. You are hot air and nothing else.

    Happy New Year!!!

  20. FlBoy84 Says:

    “Sadly, this mindset is allergic to how Team Glazer is trying to build a lasting winner, the same way the Packers and Steelers have.”

    Definitely disagree Joe. I happen to agree with and like the way the Glazers are trying to build the team from the ground up, just think they had a slight misstep by not including a few (not many) veterans to add the mentor factor. What most people are allergic to is having a poor coaching staff build this lasting winner. Let me ask you this Joe, if you were building your dream house, would you want the cheapest builder you could find who had never built a house before, but he sure did get you excited talking about it. Or would you rather have an experienced builder who has built some great homes and is a bit more expensive, but has done some quality work.

  21. Convinced Of The Hex Says:

    The Glazers are practicing crony capitalism. They are symbolic of all that is going wrong in this country. They threatened to move the team if a stadium wasn’t built. The taxpayers have given hundreds of millions dollars for a stadium from which the Glazers reap the profit not only from Bucs games, but from USF games, concerts, monster trucks, etc. When you own a professional sports franchise, you have a civic duty owed to the community to try your best. When combined with the countless millions of dollars of tax money they’ve taken, they have broken the convenant with the local population. It is outright fraud to have taken this money, and yet have a payroll less than the Tampa Bay Lightning….think about that for a minute…ridiculous. When Malcolm finally dies and they owe estate taxes, this will get more interesting. I won’t give money until there are new owners.

  22. flmike Says:

    We all keep using the Packers and Steelers as the organizations we want to emulate with our build through the draft, problem is, those teams have very old and established fan bases who BELIEVE in their franchises’ ability to get the job done, the Bucs do not and cannot go through a very long and demanding rebuild strictly through the draft, they missed the boat and should have been into the FA market this season and it is gong to cost them, in terms of fan loyalty and the ability to sign top line FAs in the future, the Glaszers better be ready to spend big these next two seasons or they might as well sell the team.

  23. Buckeyebob Says:

    Maybe they should use the Mike Brown approach and put tickets on sale @ 2 for 1…and this is the biggest game for them in 20 years.