INDIANAPOLIS — Lovie and MaryAnne Smith have put their Lake Forest house on the market. They’ve already bought a place in Tampa, their new home now that Smith has been hired as the Buccaneers head coach.
He has moved on. And if he is bitter about being fired as Bears coach after the 2012 season, he isn’t letting it show or intrude on the now. Mike Ditka declared, “The past is for cowards and losers,” and Smith is showing no signs of being either.
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Smith refused to be baited into Bears bashing with a question on whether he felt he’d been given “a raw deal” being fired by the Bears after a 10-6 season. He’d had all last season off, with full pay, and landed well with a head-coaching job after season spent studying the game one step removed.
“It’s a Bucs life for me,” he said at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine. “My focus is definitely on that. I worked a lot of different places in the past. If you’d like to talk about Big Sandy [Texas] High School, I used to work there, too. Great experience there. Excited about Tampa and what we’re doing. Again my past, I had an opportunity to work at a lot of great places. Chicago was one of them.”
Smith didn’t feel he should’ve been fired after a winning year; rare is the individual who does think they should have been fired, good year or bad, regardless of profession.
But he also is a devout individual who believes and lives by a principle that things happen for a reason. Smith spent last season consulting for the NFL, breaking down film in his home studio and providing recommendations to the league.
“Having a year off helped,” Smith said. “I strongly recommend it. If you get fired, take the year off like I did. It will help you an awful lot. I had a chance to evaluate everything I believe.”
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Being in town allowed him to see a collapse of the defense that he had helped fashion. And it surprised him.
He had been in on drafting Lance Briggs, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman, Corey Wootton and others, and was the point recruiter in persuading a then-free agent Julius Peppers to become a Bear. That group, albeit with significant injuries to Briggs, Melton and Tillman, was near the bottom of the NFL in points and yards allowed.
“Every year is a different year,” he said. “That group of guys had played pretty well,” Smith said later. “I don’t know exactly what happened. Sometimes you have bad years for whatever reason. I know there are some warriors on that team that I am sure will come back hard this year.”