"It was quite an honor and I enjoyed every day of it," the coach added. "We didn't get it done. I accept responsibility for that."
Word of the firing broke less than 30 minutes after the team closed the locker room, where players were sorting through equipment and belongings before scattering for the offseason. They met with the coaching and medical staff for exit interviews and physicals. They had not been informed of the dismissals before media was allowed into the room.
Many, including Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, had hoped Schiano would keep his job.
"It's tough for the players to see your coaches go. You never want to see anybody get fired," McCoy said after the announcement. "Me personally, I haven't had any consistency in my career. Third head coach, going on my fifth year and three head coaches. Add up everybody, it'll be six d-line coaches."
The Bucs went 7-9 in their first season under Schiano, collapsing after a 6-4 start that had the team in playoff contention.
After trading for three-time All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and signing safety Dashon Goldson in free agency to bolster a porous defense, the team entered training camp this season with heightened expectations.
But a messy split with former quarterback Josh Freeman, an outbreak of MRSA infections in the locker room and reports that Schiano was losing the support of players tiring of his rules and coaching style dogged the team during an 0-8 start that put the coach's job in jeopardy.
Despite having a rookie quarterback and finishing with 16 players on injured reserve, including running back Doug Martin and receiver Mike Williams, the Bucs went 4-4 over the second half of the season. That hardly seemed like progress, though, because the offense got progressively worse and finished last in the NFL in passing and total yardage.