Tanking Back In The Limelight

May 17th, 2017

Guilty, foolish or brilliant.

One of the great stains on the Bucs franchise is also one of its greatest accomplishments.

With a 2-10 record entering December 2014, and bags over the heads of most Bucs fans, it became obvious Tampa Bay was no longer trying to win at all costs. Frankly, that’s the only explanation for sticking with career loser Josh McCown as the starting quarterback through the end of that season.

It worked.

Tavarres King became a hero in Week 17, while Mike Evans and other big guns watched from the sidelines as the Bucs won the Chase For Jameis (aka the No. 1 overall pick) during a thrilling home loss to New Orleans.

Joe will say there’s a teeny chance Lovie Smith really believed McCown was better than young, emerging but benched Mike Glennon. But that alleged reality is nearly impossible to swallow after McCown was cut in a hurry following that season.

Today, the Bucs’ never-admitted tank job was back in the news, as outspoken billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told The Dan Patrick Show that his team tried to lose by sitting its best players once it was eliminated from the playoffs. NBA fans and observers now wait to see if the league’s commissioner will crack down on Cuban.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com openly wondered about what the NFL’s response would be if an NFL owner said the same thing, and Florio referenced the Tampa tank job of 2014.

Florio lobbied for the NFL to add a draft lottery system to avoid a repeat of what happened with the Bucs — a rollover local fans paid hard-earned cash to watch.

One day, somebody of stature who worked at One Buc Palace a few years ago will admit (at least) that the Bucs tried to lose their final game. And Joe is confident the NFL won’t care.

62 Responses to “Tanking Back In The Limelight”

  1. Chu Says:

    Im cool with it. And honestly, it was a sound game plan, executed to perfection. Also, there were a lot of other factors to that season that will muddy the waters when it comes to proving anything. Good job guys.

  2. BCoburn Says:

    I guess I’m naiive. I legitimately thought they tried to win that one, but it seems like I’m basically alone in that belief.

  3. Couch Fan Says:

    There was no tank job. Lovie was just truely Incompetent. Anyone with a brain could see that starting a career back up over, as you say, an emerging young QB without allowing any sort of competition was going to end in disaster. I seen it coming from a mile away. How could you not?… And that was just the first of a lot of horrible decisions by the Incompetent One. Given his track record I would say its more likely it was just another on the list of bad decisions. Not a tank.

  4. rriddler Says:

    If they want to add an NBA style draft lottery to avoid this (Which I’m totally against), then they also need to come up with a method to prevent teams from resting players once they’ve clinched their playoff position.

  5. celly Says:

    you’re not alone @BCoburn…

    I refuse to believe that paid professional athletes whose sole job in life is to compete, willingly laid down and chose to lose.

    Do I believe that’s its likely that the game plan may have gotten extremely conservative or certain (star) players were pulled and plaid the backups to those guys? That’s more likely to believe.

    But the guys that were on the field, I believe were trying their best to win the game(s).

  6. Waterboy Says:

    I think Lovie was legitimately trying to win but may have gotten a call from upstairs at half-time.

  7. Zwak Says:

    Once your out of the playoffs why would you play to win? I’d do the same thing play for a better draft pick!

  8. Vico Says:

    In soccer they thought this kind of problem would be eliminated by downgrading the worst teams to”minor leagues”. If you’re looking for corruption look at all of the soccer organizations around the world as (among other things) betting on it is much simpler than other sports like football. The draft system works because of things like the possibility of trades and the uncertainty of the benefits it brings. Jameis could have been a bust, in that case they wouldn’t be mentioned in such an article. In the NFL, for the right price anyone can get the number one pick most years, but in such trade we don’t really know who made a better deal until after a few years later.

  9. tmaxcon Says:

    i agree with couchfan no tank job just lovie being lovie. which was the most incompetent coach in bucs history.

  10. '74 Bucs fan Says:

    Agreed Waterboy. If I remember correctly, we pulled the starters to start the 2nd half – which is clearly a tank job by Ownership/Management. No doubt the players on the field tried their best to win – but lets be real about the tank job.

  11. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Any fool with half a brain of football could’ve obviously seen the bucs tanked purposely……but you’ll never hear that from the owners or professionals running the organization.

    The bucs got “FIRST PRIZE!!!”…….lol

    That was the only good thing Lovie accomplished.

  12. tmaxcon Says:


    I refuse to believe that paid professional athletes whose sole job in life is to compete, willingly laid down and chose to lose.

    How do you explain the fact that the mccoy led defenses for years have been coming out unprepared, unmotivated and quit on multiple occasions over the last 7 years whether it be from a bad call, mental weakness, bad coaching etc… the bottom line is in a perfect world your line of thinking is right and i agree with it 100% but the results prove otherwise even highly paid athletes give up. look no further than the massive blowouts under lovie the mccoy led defenses. they came out unprepared and certainly not Tennessee ready and that was not even the most embarrassing whipping. you can legitimately complain about talent the last 7 years but there is NO excuse for the low effort performances, being unmotivated or unprepared the bucs defense has turned in on multiple occasion and to be embarrassed on national tv the way they were multiple times is hard to support your theory these guys wont tank.

    thankfully the bucs have Jameis now. the leadership void has been vacant sense brooks left.

  13. Pickgrin Says:

    Obvious tank job that started at least a few games before the final Saints game.

    Mission Accomplished! Best thing Lovie ever did for this franchise!!

  14. theodore Says:

    Waterboy Says:
    May 17th, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    I think Lovie was legitimately trying to win but may have gotten a call from upstairs at half-time.

    Correct. That call; however, was asking Lovie to win the game, resulting in the Bucs losing. The Glazers aren’t idiots.

  15. RayJameisStadium Says:

    I have no complains. It was the beginning of a new era. Without a lottery the events that follow at One Buc Palace brought stability and a bright future.

    I will always be thankful to Gruden for the Super Bowl. Otherrwise we would be no different than the Detroit Lions going to the playoffs to go home losers.

    And I will ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL FOR LOVIE!!!! He brought us a beginning that I know will be better than one Super Bowl win.

    And last but not least, I’m Grateful For The Glazers. Without them we would still be the laughingstock of the NFL.

    Awesome to turn lemons into lemonade! Fire them Cannons!!!!!

  16. The Buc Realist Says:

    The Bucs were eliminated from the playoffs when coach my scheme was hired!!!!!!!! He just lost so many games that they threw in the towel the last 2 games!!!!!!!!

    And they could have fired the incompetent one (like they should have) and the Bucs still would have drafted JW3!!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. RayJameisStadium Says:

    Not firing Lovie secured the No. 1 pick Jameis Winston!!!!!!!!

  18. RayJameisStadium Says:

    Children stop the tantrum!!!

    Jameis, Koetter, Licht, Smitty, Evans, Jackson, Howard, Ayers, Alexander, Grimes, Godwin, Marpet, Spence and even Anger are in town!!!!!!!!!

    Go To Your Room and watch the Super Bowl again!!!!!


  19. Rod Munch Says:

    Oh come-on, everyone said that year the Bucs were tanking to get Winston – it was obvious watching them play and it was obvious seeing as to the fact they didn’t even have an OC – and finally it’s completely obvious considering the Bucs threw that last game of the season against the Saints and the fact that fans cheered them throwing the game. Everyone knew the gag. The next year Lovie took the team from 2 to 6 wins and the offense was #5 in the league and the defense was #10 in the league with a rookie QB and no NFL caliber players in the secondary. Those that just bash Lovie non-stop, they’re being dishonest with the job he did. He was told to tank so the team could finally get a franchise QB for the first time in team history – and Lovie did what he was told.

  20. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    The tank job was the only Lovie game plan that worked that year. Even that didn’t go smooth. We want to lose but get a big lead. We can’t even lose on purpose without trying to screw it up!

  21. Lev Says:

    I spent hard earned cash to make sure my Bucs DID tank

  22. JimmyJack Says:

    I was very angry when they tanked that game. I felt shame and embarrassment to be a TB fan.

    Glad to say I was wrong. Was the right call for a struggling lifeless franchise. Besides, I go to 2 games each year and still haven’t seen a win in 8 seasons and counting.

  23. The Buc Realist Says:

    For the “real” fans we know what happened!!!!! All that trash and garbage that the incompetent one talked when he go here!!!! We know it was not a tank job But became one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The day that turned the Bucs around is when NFL GM Jason Licht went to tell the Glazers that coach my scheme was incompetent!!!!!!! The rest is history!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    I know Lovie receives much hate (and most of it is definitely deserved), but I’m so glad we hired him in hindsight. I mean, without him, we wouldn’t have Famous Jameis Winston!

  25. Kobe Faker Says:

    Terrible coach but…

    Thank you Lovie for bringing Jameis Winston

    Thank God Koetter wasnt Head Coach because he would have drafted Maim Mariota

    And that is a fact!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Kobe Realist

  26. First Down Tampa Bay Says:


    Why the hate on Coach K? He’s done a phenomenal job so far.

  27. The Buc Realist Says:

    @First Down Tampa Bay

    Agreed, But no one needed to watch or waste more time with a second year!!!!! And they should have fired him for gross Incompetence when he fell asleep and the scouting combine!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. TheArmchairAthlete Says:

    I was at the last game of the 2014 season at home against the Saints. We went into halftime up 20-7. At the time, the Titans were losing to the Colts, who ended up beating them 27-10. Had we won that day, we would have ended up with the 2nd pick, and Tennessee would have had their pick of the litter.

    After throwing the ball 21 times in the first half, we ran all of TWO pass plays in the entire second half of the game, both in the fourth quarter. T-W-O. If you count the two consecutive sacks McCown took at the very end of the game, we can bump that figure up to four. Not to mention that our second-team defense played much of the second half.

    I’m no conspiracy theorist, but it looked to me like we were doing what we could to lose in the second half. We ran a vanilla offense and rotated our entire squad like it was the preseason. However, with the season being over months before, and looking ahead to 2015, there was no benefit for the Bucs winning that game. And as an FSU alum, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome.

    Tank job or not, thankfully those dark days are in the rearview mirror. We got the guy we wanted to lead our team, Licht and his staff have done an excellent job adding talent around him, and the future is looking bright.

  29. Buccfan37 Says:

    I remember watching some of the past NBA lottery pick shows on the tv, bogus is what I saw on the order of the teams picking. Only way to clean that up is to pull the picks out of a hat live.

  30. Fanalyzer34 Says:

    Once you are eliminated from playoff contention – it makes sense to lose out for draft positioning – especially when you don’t have a franchise QB on the roster which neither Glennon or McCown were. Sometimes it makes perfect sense to sacrifice your Bishop to protect your Queen. That is what happened in 2014.

    I find it amazing that some like to forget that Lovie inherited a team with no real identity in 2014. Schiano was awful – no other way around it and Dominik made some bad personnel moves (like trading our 1st rounder to the Jets for Revis when we could have drafted Xavier Rhodes for cheaper). We were a bad organization that had no direction so Lovie coming in wasn’t going to fix years of bad decision making. “Trying to win” with middle of the road at best FA signings made Lovie look bad – but it must be said that he is the only coach in Buc history to be the HC who presided over two consecutive drafts that yielded building blocks. While Licht gets a lot of credit – Lovie does deserve some of it. Was Lovie stubborn? Yes. Did he do things that infuriated you? Absolutely. But the Bucs wouldn’t be on the path of national relevance again if Lovie hadn’t been on board – Simple as that.

  31. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    @The Buc Realist

    I know we’re all aware of Lovie’s gross incompetence as a HC. Im sure the FO was aware of his coaching skills (or lack thereof). But, seeing as though we had just run off Greg Schiano, the FO probably wanted to see if just one more year of stability would help (obviously it did not but we did see improvement, most likely due to Coach K though). I know Lovie was a horrrible coach, but I dont really blame management for trying to keep some stability there. You never want to become known as the team that has a revolving door at HC.

  32. Kobe Faker Says:

    No hate 1st down

    my approach is direct. i will never post lies but truthfully speak my mind

    2015 draft will be remembered as the worst in tampa bucs history. i believe it will come true from my football knowledge. The draft was a complete failure and we are trying to fill all the 4 positions

    2016 was a A+ draft by Jason Licht. I would have moved up and the man was a rock and didnt lose a pick to moveup

    Koetter as a OC is good to very good

    As HC, Koetter playcalling, no OC, no competent QB, Love affair for ryan bimpin griffen?, …etc….NOT GOOD

    nothing personal

    “I demand A Offensive Coordinator”

    Kobe Faker

  33. First Down Tampa Bay Says:


    Jameis is not a competent QB? Really? Over 8,000 yards in his first two years is incompetent? Not to mention, he hasn’t exactly had studs around him in his short time here so far so its kind of a miracle he’s done this well so far. To put this in perspective, Marcus Mariota has only thrown for a little over 6,000 yards so far in his career. Derek Carr threw for under 8,000 yards in his first two years. So really, Jameis is incompetent?

    Jameis is the future and face of this franchise. He and Koetter are here to stay.

  34. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Couch Fan Says
    “over, as you say, an emerging young QB”


    You have to lose it when you typed that…lol.

  35. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Personally, I don’t care if it was a tank job or if it wasn’t. It’s in the rear-view mirror and we have Jameis now.

    But let’s be clear…McCown was not the only reason we sucked. Nor was Lovie the only reason. Just the biggest reasons.

  36. Roscoe the Pirate Says:

    Forget the last game, that whole season was a tank job. Who has EVER lost a OC in preseason and decided not to replace them?

    Answer that and you’ll have another team that also tanked.

    What I cant believe is how no one wants to accept this. Multi billion $ organisations don’t leave things to chance. There are contingency plans stacked 5 high for any foreseeable problems.

    It was a considered choice to ignore that position loss and I believe that everyone on staff knew exactly why.

  37. rayjay1122 Says:

    Tank job or not, that season was the right time to have the first pick in the draft. Much better than in this years draft. Timing is everything. We are very lucky to have winston. I am so stoked for this season.

  38. The Buc Realist Says:

    @Roscoe the Pirate

    2009 Bucs!!!!!

    The fired Jeff J who dominik hand picked and then they realized that he had only 3 plays and was going to us each running back for 2 drives!!!!!!!!

    Man this stuff is depressing

    Joe we want a poll!!!!!! Biggest Buffoon, dominik or lovie!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. unbelievable Says:

    LOLOL Realist! What an ugly year that was.

    I like your poll idea. That’s honestly a tough choice. I think I’ll go with Dominik, since at least Lovie got us Winston.

  40. First Down Tampa Bay Says:


    Yea Dominik was an idiot

  41. carrythatmofostick Says:

    yea we lost that game on pupose, but that stupid iidot embarassment of a head coach aka stoneface lovie smith damn near blew the number one pick by putting up a 2 score lead by half time, the call came into the locker room then he pulled the starters in the second half, and then if memory serves me well it was all the happless aints could do to get back the lead, so he almost fucked us over twice, once with his hire, and then with the first pick, how does illinois like that POS. what he do there last season 1-2-3 wins cant even win at the college level

  42. Roscoe the Pirate Says:

    @ rayjay1122

    That’s kinda my point, luck didn’t really play into drafting Jameis.
    It was due to deliberate design.

  43. Capt.Tim Says:

    Gotta be Dominick. I still believe he is the worst Gm in NFL history.
    Meybe in history, period
    The Guy sucks

    It was a Tank job. I believe it was ordered from the Top(Glazers)
    Neither Dim or Lovie were smart enough, to see that far ahead.

    It was a great move. The ONLY move. This team , for the vast majority of its history, has been horrible.
    Never having had a Franchise QB will do that.

    Having Jameis changes everything. Every draft, game, season.
    I dont care if the plan was to tank THE ENTIRE SEASON!

    Getting A Franchise QB is the only thing that is critical in The NFL.
    And, Thanks to a tank- We Finally got one!!

  44. Dom is gone Says:

    Dom definitely … but it was the Glazer that started the tank job the day they hired Dom and Raheem winning simply didn’t seem to be priority over $$$$$. But we finally got us a QB!!! Sky is the limit if we can put a halfway decent defense on the field!

  45. Alaskan abdominal snowman Says:

    Lol Kobie tells no lies, almost spit my drink out. Weren’t you supposed to disappear? 2015 class the worst in Bugs history? Thats how I know you haven’t been following the Bucs very long and are not very knowledgeable.

    Thank goodness for the incompetent one tanking, about the only good long term thing he did for us. Well that and hiring Licht.

    I am fully against a draft lottery but if we want to turn into the NBA how about we actually let the BEST 12 teams fight it out regardless of division.

  46. DavidBigBucsfan99 Says:

    The people who say Lovie didn’t tank the season to get Fameis are simply blinded by the hatred of him. The proof is in the pudding; No OC after Tedford then starting McClown over Glennon. You can call him incompetent all you want but the man wasn’t stupid, he knew Glennon gave us the best chance to win that`s why he went with McClown. Then of course the Saints game was the coup detat .Then the fact he wasn’t fired after that 2-10 season says the Glazers were in on it too. I mean why not, didn’t Indy tank to get Andrew Luck?

  47. SB Says:

    A professional football game is chess match for opposing coaches. It really isn’t on the athletes if the coach decides to sit his best ones. When you put ME13 on the bench for the second half you are saying you don’t want to score anymore.

  48. Rrsrq Says:

    If they do that, then they also need to stop the compensatory picks, teams are penalized for signing their players in free agency and awarded extra picks for letting them walk.

  49. Buccanr1 Says:

    Are you for real Coburn?
    That’s one of the biggest tanks that I’ve ever seen.
    BUCs fans are so blinded

  50. Buccaneer scotty Says:

    Bucs would have got Winston with the 2nd pick anyway Tennessee Titans didn’t want him!

  51. Pick6 Says:

    nobody is saying the players threw the game. just that every managerial and coaching decision that was made after sometime in october were not decisions that were unlikely to end in more wins. Lovie already has his teams struggling to win in spite of his coaching and philosophy, when stopped trying to win on top of that, the players on the field had no chance

    Lovie went into the season thinking playoffs or bust. then he realized he had made the offensive line and the entire defense worse than what he inherited, that every free agent pick he scouted from his couch was a total turd, and that he had the least capable and experienced offensive coordinator the league has seen this century. At that point he embraced the suck and treated it like extended preseason

  52. Pick6 Says:

    *likely to end in more wins

  53. Buc1987 Says:

    Pick6 …correctamondo!

    The tank was on and on early, but shhh that’s for the real conspiro whack-a-do’s.

    I love reliving this though over and over. Cause like Capt Timmy said getting a franchise QB opens the doors to so many possibilities. Jameis was there at FSU that whole season. Hucking balls all over creation.

    Oh well once again. McCown was the tank!

  54. Buc1987 Says:

    Buccaneer scotty…says who? You?

  55. Mike Says:

    Reall!?!?!? Some of you actually believe the Bucs tried to win the last game of that season. What were you watching? The Bucs were ahead and had the ‘Aints’ number. All of a sudden the momentum swung the other direction after the starters were benched. No, I don’t think paid professional athletes would tank a game but what does that say when the coaching staff benches the starters and they were playing well? Looks like the coaches were giving the game away in efforts to lock up the 1st overall pick. Or whoever made the decision to pull the starters at that point. The starters played very well through the first 3 quarters but someone made the call to bench them and give other players some playing to time for game film to evaluate them for the next coming season. Good thinking but not at the expense of your reputation and the entertainment of the fans. If the NFL does crack down on that game I say the team and the responsible party for the decision to “tank” should have to pay back all the fans that attended that game for not getting what we paid for. You want loyal fans? Don’t put that garbage display on the field again.
    And yes, I have seen games where the momentum swings the other way but those games the starters were still on the field and the coaches were just making poor play calls and bad clock management. We all want our team to win but at least if they don’t I want them to put their best effort into the game. If the other team wins in a fair manner then kudos to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful to have gotten Winston but what the Bucs did to get him was not right.

  56. Skip Says:

    In reality, once you are 2-10, the final 4 games are just a talent evaluation for the following year. Extra preseason games. Besides, the NFL chargers full price for preseason games, so what’s the difference? It was the best decision Lovie made while in Tampa.

  57. Eric Says:

    This topic fascinates me…

    I just wanted to start with if you don’t think we tanked that last game, then you are evidently not a real bucs fan. Or you just don’t pay attention. We pulled most of our superstar starters, I mean come on. Some guy was real confident at the beginning of this thread that we didn’t tank LOL.

    On to the draft. I honestly think, even if we didn’t tank, we still would have landed Jameis. We would have had pick #2 and Ten would have still went for MM. A lot of front offices coveted him more than JW, no matter what we believe. I am happier that we got JW but I wouldn’t have been too upset if we had ended up with Marcus. He is still solid but give me Jameis all day.

    As far as lovie, well I honestly think that it was a tank job most of the year once they realized we sucked after like week 4. No professional coach is that dumb to think JM is better than MG. I also think that McCown is a franchise’s answer to tanking a season. Tampa, Cleveland, now the Jets?!? Hmmmm… The thing with McCown is that they can play him, he will play his a** off and still lose. He’s just really bad so it’s not obvious that we’re tanking.

    When interviewed, Lovie also said he was disappointed in what happened because they had a plan. Seemingly, everything was going to plan and he was dropped aka landing the #1 pick and jameis. They just didn’t expect koetter to be as good as he was and that derailed them. I’m sure lovie understands that aspect. DK is a better coach, period. He may end up my favorite coach all time.

    Landing JW was in Lovie’s mind for longer than we know. I’m sure a lot of people here are unaware that Lovie is the one that talked the rest of the staff into JW. Koetter wanted Marcus. That is the best thing that any coach besides gruden has done for this team, ironically. Landed us a franchise QB and talked the GM into the best one. Lovie wasn’t as bad as people think. Year one was intentional, for the most part. He vastly improved year two. But his free agent pickups were the worst I’ve ever seen. Collins was trash and I hate him more than most players we ever got. He was just stuck in his old ways. Good, tampa 2 defense and an offense that can run the ball. Times have changed, multiple fronts are thriving, its a passing league, tampa 2 is dying, blitzes should be utilized more, RBs are a dime a dozen, etc.

    I could talk about this all day but seeing as this post was yesterday and I’m the last one, nobody will probably read it. 🙁

  58. Xandtar Says:

    Someone read it.

  59. Brandon Says:

    I’m not going to read it, Xandtar. You read it.

  60. Brandon Says:

    I don’t believe Lovie was nearly as bad as year one either. The tank job was in after the Steelers victory… When McCown got healthy, Lovie thought to himself… geeze, we gotta get this Glennon kid out of there before he goes and wins us another few games. Then the Bucs beat the crap out of the Redskins and nearly beat the Bengals, Browns, Saints, and few other teams to make it interesting.

    Did the Franchise tank? Absolutely, did the individual players tank? Not at all. Just as Mark Cuban said, they put in younger players to “see what they could do” knowing they couldn’t do nearly as well as the also young stars on the team could do.

    With that being said, I love Josh McCown. He’s a competitive dude. He keeps both teams in the game. He’s a competent QB… he just isn’t a winner… not even close. The guy has a decent arm, decent mobility, can make a play, but in the end, just like Vinny Testaverde, he will find a way to lose. An untimely interception, a forced ball into coverage, an unlucky fumble… even things that don’t show up on a stat sheet… he will find a way to lose. Steve DeBerg was kind of the same way… though in my heart I feel like he did everything he could do to win and his team let him down… but DeBerg did quite a bit to keep both teams in the games as well.

  61. Eric Says:

    I’ll just read it to myself. 🙁

  62. Eric Says:

    Ya man, you are on point. McCown is a great competitor, just a bad player. He is the reason we got JW. LOL