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Jason Licht Says Bruce Arians Brings ‘It’ Factor to Tampa Bay

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“I’ve spent the last couple days here trying to think of the word that explains how honored I am to be here to help introduce you guys here to Tampa,” Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht said today. “And I guess it’s just frickin’ excited, ok?”

That was a very common sentiment as everyone settled into the auditorium, which doubles as the team meeting room, at AdventHealth Training Center to see Bruce Arians welcomed as the Buccaneers’ new head coach. The Bucs hosted a press conference that began with remarks from Owner/Co-Chairman Bryan Glazer and then General Manager Jason Licht, who uttered the above as he welcomed Arians to the stage.

Prior to introducing Arians, Licht went into the criteria that he and his staff were looking for as they embarked on their search for the franchise’s 12th head coach. Bruce Arians checked the box on each of them.

They wanted someone who could command a room. Arians does that. Anyone who was in that press conference can attest to it.

They wanted someone with a proven track record in developing players and coaches. Arians has that. He has worked with some of the most prolific quarterbacks in recent NFL history, with pupils including Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer. His coaches extend even further, though some will be rubber-banding back to him here in Tampa as assistants.

They wanted someone with “swagger.” Arians has that. A self-proclaimed “Southern-Fried Yankee,” Arians has a demeanor about him from his twang to his clothes to the way he coaches and everything in between that just oozes cool.

“Last but not least, that ‘it’ factor that you really can’t explain,” Licht said. “Anybody that has been around Bruce, knows that Bruce has ‘it.’ I’ve never been around a guy that has such magnetism about him that players and coaches just instantly want to follow him when he comes.”

And follow him, they do. Arians will be assembling a staff made up largely of former assistants, some of which he’s known for decades. There’s Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles, who first coached under Arians in Arizona, but played for him over 30 years ago at Temple University when Arians was head coach. There’s Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong, who Arians said would be joining him, that first coached under Arians during that time at Temple, too, all those years ago. It’s a product of the experience Arians has in the league, which yes, comes with age. Though it’s been the major, and one of the only, knocks against him recently, Arians will dare you to challenge him on it.

“He may be 66, but he came into his interview with myself and ownership and he said, ‘I may be 66, but I’m 66 and sexy,” Licht said, laughing.

“66 and sexy” is one of those instant catchphrases that outwardly display Arians’ ‘it’ factor, making it slightly more tangible. He’s full of them. None more famous already than, “No risk it, no biscuit.”

“It’s just the way I live my life,” Arians said. “Probably way too many risk-its, but we’ve got a few biscuits.”

Licht was already echoing the phrase when talking about hiring a 66-year-old coach who was in retirement this time last year. He said he was pretty certain the Bucs got a biscuit in Arians. In explaining the coaching search process, Licht said they went into it very open-minded, even after Arians became involved. But every candidate was compared back to Arians, who proved to be too tough of a coach to beat.

“One of the things you want, is you want a guy that can capture the room and capture the moment,” Licht said. “He did it unlike anybody we could have brought in.”

That should carry over with Buccaneers’ players, who Arians has already said are extremely talented, even more so than the team he inherited when he took over the Cardinals after the 2012 season. Arians has proved time and time again that he adjusts his system to his players, rather than making them fit a set scheme. It’s in an effort to play up each player’s strengths and it’s something that is very well received, according to Licht’s evaluation of all the players he’s known to have played for Arians.

“I’ve never met a player that didn’t love Bruce,” Licht said.

Whether it’s his “swagger,” his system, his loyalty or his catchphrases, it was certainly evident in Arians’ first day in Tampa Bay.

“As much as you want to try and explain it, you can’t,” Licht said. “He’s just got ‘it.’”

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