Lovie Smith disappointed over Bucs' firing: 'I thought we had a plan'

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opted for a substantial change in leadership heading into this offseason, firing head coach Lovie Smith after just two years at the helm.

Though Smith has since landed a lead job in the college ranks, officially taking over at Illinois this past week, he's admittedly disappointed about the quick hook he received after a relatively productive second year with the Bucs.

"When you make a change, it takes a while," Smith said on FOX Sports Radio, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. "We made progress from Year 1, and I thought the team was set up to really take off in Year 3. I can live with that. I'm pretty confident in my abilities, and normally when things like that have happened to me, I've been met with another great opportunity, and that's what I have here with the University of Illinois."

Smith went on to speak of a lack of patience from upper management in making the decision to let him go, and that he felt as though he had the club on the right track.

"Disappointed is what I would say," he explained. "I was surprised. Didn't see it coming. I thought we had a plan and I was a part of that plan. I felt like I put a lot of things in place for the Buccaneers to be successful in years to come."

After a debut season in which his team managed just two wins, Smith led a much-improved Bucs team to a 6-10 mark in 2015.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter stepped in as the head coach shortly after his dismissal, earning the promotion due largely to his impressive work with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.