Bruce Arians: 'Succession is way more important to me' than pursuing another ring as Buccaneers coach

Sporting a patented Kangol hat with a cigar peeking from the pocket of his short-sleeve collared shirt, Bruce Arians looked like a man ready for a retirement round at the golf course after announcing he's stepping down as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach to transition to the front office.

The jovially profane 69-year-old head coach is retiring as coach of the Bucs after three seasons, saying Thursday, "when you know it's time, it's time."

The announcement's timing, which came Wednesday -- 67 days after the Bucs were eliminated from the postseason -- seemed odd, but for Arians, it was all about having a positive succession plan in place and knowing the club was in good hands before ultimately passing the torch.

Arians' longtime assistant and friend, Todd Bowles, takes over as head coach of a Super Bowl contender.

"A number of people have already asked, why are you stepping away from a chance to go to the Hall of Fame and win another Super Bowl?" Arians said. "Because I don't give a s--- about the Hall of Fame. Succession is way more important to me. This has been my dream for a long time. Guys that know me, they knew I wanted one of my guys to take over. And that's more important to me than anything, and have a place that I could go and be welcomed back. And obviously, I have a job now and the title's pretty good. We'll figure out what the hell it means, but it's pretty damn good. And I get to stay and have the relationships that I love, and I couldn't turn it over to a better person. We've been together, I'd hate to say how many years, age both of us. Todd's going to do a great job."

The Bucs announced Arians would join the club's Ring of Honor this season. On Thursday, he credited his staff with the successes of the past three seasons, as the team went 31-18 under his watch.

"I didn't really do s---. You guys led the ship," he said of the staff.

It's the latest retirement for Arians, who previously left coaching following five years in charge of the Arizona Cardinals. He spent one year in a TV booth before returning to the sidelines in Tampa.

Arians' decision to retire to the front office came after Tom Brady decided to return for another run. Getting the G.O.A.T. back made it easier for Arians to move on.

"I thought about it after the season, but again, it wasn't right," he said of retiring. "Obviously, going through the combine, going through that process, and trying to build next year's team without Tom. And then when Tom said he'd come back, I said, now it's easy. Now it's easy. We're in the best shape we've ever been. It's no better time to pass the torch than now. I don't know what February brings, but I know what today brings and it makes me really happy."

Brady returning allows Bowles to take over a team poised to contend for another championship. From Bowles taking over the coaching duties to Brady being a leader under center and in the locker room, Arians was confident now was the right time to move on.

"I felt very comfortable after talking with Tom that the franchise was in great shape," he said.

As for reported friction between Arians and Brady, the former coach dismissed and deep-seated squabble.

"We have a great relationship," he said. "I mean, all of the players -- there are a few of them here -- every one of them's gotten cussed out, including him. So that's just part of me, you know? That's nothing new. But we have a great relationship. As soon as he retired, I think we texted every week. 'Where you at? What are you doing? When are you gonna come play golf? When are you getting back down this way?' And so… people gotta write s---, and it couldn't be further from the truth."

Transitioning to the front office, Arians said he's glad to still be around the players and fill in wherever the team needs.

"If [offensive coordinator] Byron [Leftwich] wants a new red-zone package, I'll give it to him," Arians quipped.

The biggest difference for the longtime coach will be on game days. At this point, Arians doesn't know what his role will be on Sundays.

"I can't be on the sideline," he said, "because they'll be throwing flags on me left and right for cussing out the officials."

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