Lions sources say they approached five different black potential candidates and all five declined to interview, saying that the job already appeared to be Mariucci’s to lose and they didn’t want to take part in any sham interview process. That’s fair enough, and it was even a development that was predicted by many once former Vikings head coach Dennis Green declined to interview.
As for Matt Millen, the Lions president/CEO, he was apparently honest enough to admit to each potential candidate that Mariucci was far and away his leading candidate. Millen has nothing to apologize for, since the Mariucci hiring made all kinds of sense for Detroit, and he did say in a news conference after firing Marty Mornhinweg that a variety of candidates would be sought.
The problem is, nobody really believed Millen because of the transparent circumstances of the Lions dumping Mornhinweg only after Mariucci became available, despite a month ago claiming that Mornhinweg’s job was safe. The system, it seems, would have “worked” better had Millen been disingenuous enough to convince at least one candidate to go through the interview process believing he was on equal footing with Mariucci.
Fairly or not, sometimes that’s the way things work in the real world. Sometimes there’s one overwhelming candidate who can’t help but turn everybody else’s candidacies into nothing but a fallback option. No matter how you spin it. That’s what happened this year in Dallas with Bill Parcells, and that’s what happened in Detroit with Mariucci.
It’s hard for me to understand how the minority watchdog groups are furthering their cause by trying to have it both ways. If minority candidates are asked to be part of the interview process, and decline, they lessen the impact of their voices when they turn around and complain about being left out of the equation. Yes, even if they believe the process was flawed to begin with.
While Banks doesn’t connect the dots, right below that is a subhead about all of the money that the Lions had to shell out to land “Mooch”:
If you’re wondering why Detroit seemingly overpaid Mariucci by giving him a five-year, $25 million annual salary, thus tying him with Washington’s Steve Spurrier as the NFL’s only $5-million-per-year coaches, it’s simple, really.
Think of it as live-in-Detroit money. Mariucci had all the leverage. The Lions had to land him, and couldn’t afford to take any chances. Thus they had to make him an overwhelming offer in order for him to get past his family’s reservations about leaving the San Francisco bay area that they adored for the cold and gray of Michigan.
The black coaches who declined to interview with the Lions seem to have a short memory. If the Lions and Mariucci couldn’t have come to terms on a contract, they would have been in the same position as Tampa Bay and Bill Parcells last year. Mariucci–as Parcells did–would spend a year in the TV booth, and the Lions would have been scrambling to find a replacement, and at that point, Denny Green would be a perfect fit.
They have only themselves to blame for not being interviewed, and Cochran, Jesse Jackson and company should be at least as angry with them, as with the Lions–if not more so.