For the last week, we have heard a repeated drumbeat of stories declaring Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as the next coach of the Browns. ESPN's Chris Mortensen led the charge, as he reported that Romeo Crennel was the leading candidate last weekend (click here for the article).
At the time, we expressed some skepticism, not about Crennel himself, but about the timing and the east coast sources used in Mortensen's report. Among other things, Mortensen declared Crennel as the de facto choice before the Browns had interviewed three of the six candidates for head coach, and only a couple of days after new GM Phil Savage arrived on the scene.
As is common with the media, the report then began to steamroll a bit, as other writers repeated it as a hook for their own columns about the Browns coaching search. With the Browns brain trust being publicly quiet and guarding information, the Mortensen story perhaps took on more weight than it deserved.
Could the Browns coaching search be more unsettled than what's being reported by the national media?
We suspect that it is.
Even prior to Savage's arrival, we had added Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and consultant Jim Fassel to the list of head coaching candidates to watch. Last week, Lane Adkins began writing in Ask the Insiders about interim Dolphins head coach Jim Bates as a possibility for the job and as a candidate to be taken seriously.
Both Nolan and Bates received interviews with the team last week, although Fassel was left out.
Lane has also been saying that it would be a mistake to discount the possibility of Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress getting the job.
The search gained an additional note of intrigue last night, however, as venerable Cleveland sportswriter Hal Lebovitz said on the Les Levine TV show that Phil Savage prefers Jim Bates as the next Browns head coach. Savage knows Bates from his two stints in Cleveland (1991-3, 1995) and Bates has a strong resume as a defensive coordinator.
According to Lebovitz, Browns owner Randy Lerner is concerned that the selection of Bates, the Dolphins interim head coach, would be a tough sell as the team passes over their own interim head coach, Terry Robiskie. Lebovitz also said that Mike Nolan is a candidate that the team likes as well.
Les Levine dropped by the Watercooler last night to clarify some of Hal's remarks on his show. Les will also be a regular participant, along with Rich Passan and others) in the newly expanded Subscriber Lounge free-form discussion form.
Romeo Crennel is clearly one of the top candidates for the job, and may very well wind up being the Browns' choice. It appears, though, that the selection process is proving to be more complex than one would perceive from reports that Lerner, Collins, and Phil Savage (on his first day on the job) were "blown away" by Crennel.