If the Cleveland Browns are really interested in changing the culture of a moribund organization, why wouldn’t they talk to Jim Tressel?
For all the talk of pulling this franchise out of a 15-year morass, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi have done nothing of the sort since taking over.
In fact, the Browns’ reputation could be worse now than it was before Haslam bought the team from Randy Lerner, thanks mainly to the firing of Rob Chudzinski after only one season.
The stability Haslam, Banner and Lombardi pledged to bring to this moribund franchise was dashed in a move no one in his right mind would call a master stroke.
The Browns are viewed as one of the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchises.
But what’s done is done. Chudzinski will live comfortably on an estimated $10.5 million over the next three years.
It is critical that the Browns make the right hire to replace him.
They’ve interviewed San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. They’ve also received permission to interview Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Aside from Whisenhunt, who took the Cardinals to a Super Bowl after the 2008 season, none of these names have made ripples with Browns fans.
But one name would do just that.
When an Akron radio station reported last week that the Browns would interview Tressel — the former Youngstown State and Ohio State coach — in a matter of days, northeastern Ohio Twitter accounts were ablaze in a matter of moments.
But in typical Browns fashion, the team quickly refuted the report. The denial was about the only statement the organization has made since its search for a coach began.
In addition, a league source debunked a report that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops — a Cardinal Mooney High graduate — was a candidate for the job.
Tressel later appeared on a Columbus radio station and seemed to indicate he’d like a chance to coach in the NFL.
Why wouldn’t the Browns be interested in talking to Tressel or Stoops — two guys who have done nothing but win their entire careers?
Both are intelligent, organized leaders and master motivators. Both are native Ohioans with an understanding of what the Browns mean to the their fans. Tressel grew up in Berea, less than a Lou Groza kick from the team’s headquarters. Stoops is a Youngstown native.
Talking to Tressel and Stoops would be good PR for a team in dire need of it. The front office might even stumble upon the Browns’ next coach in the process.
The notion that Tressel or Stoops couldn’t possibly coach in the NFL is simply shortsighted.
Either of them would be a serious upgrade over any coach the Browns have hired since 1999.
Maybe the problem is that the Browns — currently run by three guys who take so much pride in being the smartest guys in the room — didn’t come up with the idea first.