Let’s Talk Ferentz and Cleveland

Scott Pioli (SI.com photo)

Scott Pioli (SI.com photo)

I really was going to totally ignore this Kirk Ferentz/Cleveland Browns business altogether, but the Iowa football season is over and I need a hot-button issue.

I’ll settle for lukewarm-button in this case.

I don’t know why Ron Borges of the Boston Herald was so convinced New England Patriots vice president Scott Pioli would automatically bring Kirk Ferentz with him to coach the Clevland Browns if Pioli basically gets full control of the franchise’s football operation.

But Borges knows the Patriots. I don’t.

Borges’ story from Dec. 30: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?articleid=1142108

First and foremost, there’s no guarantee Pioli will come to terms with Cleveland. Here’s an excerpt from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot:

Pioli would require the authority to hire his own coach, and reportedly favors either Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz or Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, whom the Browns were impressed with in his interview Friday.A source close to Pioli said he headed into the Browns interview with serious reservations about the job. Multiple league sources have pointed to the fact the Browns have squandered many draft picks over the past few years – including their third-, fifth- and seventh-round picks in 2009.

Lerner, who’s said he’d be “apprehensive” about hiring a college coach, would have to be sold on Ferentz. Likewise, it probably wouldn’t be a deal breaker for Pioli if the Browns didn’t want to go the college route.  …


Also, the salary cap is headed for trouble because of huge signing bonuses given to free agents over the past several years and the fact a number of player contracts are up after 2009.

One league source said the roster is in bad shape after the reign of fired GM Phil Savage, and that only one current defensive player – Shaun Rogers – would be good enough to start for AFC North rivals Baltimore or Pittsburgh. Another said that neither linebacker Beau Bell nor tight end Martin Rucker, two players the Browns traded up to select in the 2008 draft, will cut it in the NFL.

The link to Cabot’s full blog post on the Browns’ situation: http://www.cleveland.com/browns/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/sports/123106145434290.xml&coll=2

Here’s what I think: Accept nothing about Ferentz being a possible head coach with the Browns as fact, but never rule out anything. The Gene Chizik-to-Auburn thing was enough to convince me of that for the rest of my days.

Pioli and Ferentz are tight, true. Ferentz professed his admiration for Pioli in front of a media gathering Dec. 31 in Tampa. He told the same group that people shouldn’t try to assume what’s in another person’s head, meaning his. Ferentz also said people shouldn’t assume Pioli will leave his New England job.

But Ferentz never says never to other rumored options, though he’s been Iowa’s coach for 10 years. That’s because he’s smart. He knows that it’s always good to have some sort of leverage in his current job. It’s not like he hasn’t used it before to get ($$$$$) things. It’s not like he doesn’t have a savvy agent (http://www.neilcornrich.com) who has helped him navigate these waters before.

There’s nothing sinister in any of that. You or I would do the same things in our jobs if we had anything to use as leverage. I, for one, could say Wal-Mart continues to sweeten the offer for me to leave my current job to become one of their greeters. But I don’t think it would help.

Now, Ferentz may have zero intention of leaving Iowa for an NFL job any time in the next four years. But why tell his boss that?

Pioli will or won’t take the Cleveland job, or a similar one with the Kansas City Chiefs. Ferentz will stay put in Iowa City.

Or he won’t.

Just trying to help with that leverage thing, Kirk.

By the way, the last coach to go straight from college to the NFL and succeed was Jimmy Johnson. That was a long time ago.

So, this has been my shameless play for hits using a story I’m very skeptical about. Thanks for indulging me.


2 responses to “Let’s Talk Ferentz and Cleveland

  1. Hlas is pretty much on the money here. The Browns won’t want a college coach because they’ve bore witness to the recent Petrino/Saban debacles and even went through their own with Butch Davis. Ferentz doesn’t want to leave because he’s royalty here and has family in school and doesn’t want to move them. So we’re going through the usual gamesmanship that will help when contract time comes up. In hindsight, if Ferentz were going to leave, the optimal time would’ve been after 2003 or 2004.

  2. Mike,

    I’ve been faithfully reading your work for about 22 years now. I think you’re a great writer. Somedays, I think you’re an artist. We locals don’t know how good we have it with you and Marc at the same paper.

    But I just don’t want to greeted by you at Walmart. I’m writing them a letter right now.

    No offense.

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