Ray Perkins was fired today as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a day after the team ended a six-game losing streak with a victory over Atlanta.
Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse, who only recently said he intended to keep Perkins, named assistant head Coach Richard Williamson as interim coach. Culverhouse had come under criticism from fans and the media during the Bucs’ losing streak to fire Perkins.
The move comes with the Buccaneers a loss shy of their eighth consecutive losing season. Sunday’s 23-17 win over the Falcons improved their record to 5-8.
Culverhouse had predicted before the season that the team would win at least 11 games. During the losing streak he gave Perkins a vote of confidence, saying he wouldn’t allow the coach to quit even if the Bucs didn’t win another game.
But fans called for Perkins’ firing and organized a boycott of the first quarter of Sunday’s game.
Perkins’ record in just less than four seasons with the Bucs was 19-41. None of his teams won more than five games.
Including four years with the New York Giants, he has a career NFL record of 42-75.
Culverhouse told a news conference the decision wasn’t made until early this afternoon during a meeting with Perkins. He said the coach’s record since coming to the Bucs from Alabama in 1987 was the sole reason for the change.
“He took it hard because he’s always been a winning coach,” Culverhouse said. “But he’s had four years and we didn’t have a winning season. Don’t look for any other reasons.”
Culverhouse said it was the most difficult decision he had made as the team’s owner.
“Ray and I both feel we have a good nucleus. Both of us want the same thing. We want a winning program for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
Before the news conference, Perkins and then Culverhouse met with the players.
Williamson will be given consideration for the permanent job, Culverhouse said. Williamson was elevated on the recommendation of Perkins.