Berea—Eric Mangini was introduced as the 12th full-time head coach in Browns’ history by team president Mike Keenan. Mangini emerged as the favorite to be named coach quickly after owner Randy Lerner learned that Mangini had been relieved of his duties the same day that Romeo Crennel was fired.
“We had an exhaustive search to find a person to lead our football team,” Keenan said. “Eric Mangini knows what it means to win in Cleveland and has the strong desire to lead this team.”
Lerner was in the back of the room during the introduction, but he did not speak.
Mangini, who will turn 38 on Jan. 19, was 23-26 in three seasons as the Jets head coach. Mangini has the reputation of a strict disciplinarian, which didn’t make some of his players and assistants very happy. Crennel, on the other hand, had the reputation of being a bit too soft on the players during his tenure with the Browns.
Mangini said he is ‘light years’ ahead as a head coach than where he was when he first started with the Jets.
“When you take that first job, you don’t know what needs to be done best,” he said. “Having been through that process will help immensely.
“You learn so much from every thing you do,” he said. “I learned so many things during those three years. There was no guide or handbook. You learn from those experiences.”
Mangini was asked if he will change his tactics with the Browns.
“The most important thing is to be yourself,” he said. “There’s no handbook to be a head coach. I worked under Bill Belichick a long time. I worked under Bill Parcells. You try to learn from all of those experiences.”
Mangini mentioned that his football career has come full circle, starting as a ball boy under Bill Belichick and now the head coach of the Browns.
“It is truly special to be back here where I started,” he said. “It’s an incredible honor. I was deeply impressed by the Lerners and how deeply they cared for this team.”
Mangini recalled telling his mother when he originally started with the Browns.
“I had a hard sell to tell my mom when I started as a ball boy and I had a lot of student loans,” he said. “I said, ‘but Mom, it’s the Cleveland Browns.’
“When Randy called me I had those same feelings,” he said. “It was the tradition, Jim Brown and one of the most storied franchises in the history of football. All teams have fans, but the difference is the fans of Cleveland live football.”
Mangini mentioned how fortunate he has been.
“During the course of my career I’ve been very lucky,” he said. The last three years with the Jets was invaluable. We had two of three wining seasons, but I’m most proud of the players we brought into the organization and the improvement we made.
“I have a very distinct vision about the organization,” he said. “I believe in truth in sports players with character. I want players and coaches who are selfless and passionately striving for the same goal. I‘m going to be vigilant about that.”
Mangini said that he wants his three sons to be Browns fans for more reasons than that his father is their coach.
“I want my boys to be Browns fans not because their dad is the coach, but because what the team does on Sunday,” he said. “I know what hard working people are in this city and we’re all going to be working toward the same goal. That’s what we are going to be working for each day.
“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier. I’m excited to get to work.”
Other questions that came up in the press conference:
Thoughts on who will be the quarterback: “The quarterback is a little more out in front,” he said. “It’s not something you see right away, but you go through the process and make the decision when the time is right.”
George Kokinis being the GM: “I have tremendous respect for George and have known him for a long time. With that being said, it’s important to go through the process and come to the best decision.”
On Crennel staying on: “Romeo is a great, great friend and I would love for him to continue to be involved. I talked to him last night and I have nothing but respect for him.”
What made you want to be the Browns coach?: “When I was able to spend as much time with Randy, to hear him talk about how he saw this team and his vision and share that vision was critical for me. We were able to discuss the smallest issues and the biggest issues.”
Any chance on switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3?: “No. I’ve been a part of it for a significant amount of time and think it’s the best system.”
Do you have your coordinators hired?: “Brian (Daboll) and Rob (Ryan) are guys I’m going to talk to first and would like to have in those roles, but I haven’t finalized anything with them. I want to talk to all of the coaches here first.”
Will you be the face of the franchise?: “I do believe in having one unified voice. If there are questions, I will address them.”
Who needs final authority on the roster, the GM or head coach?: “It’s not going to be a function of what’s in the contract. It doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that the GM and I work every day. What was most important was the conversations I had with Randy and to be able to talk about all of the important issues of operating a team. The importance of a general manager that you can work side by side with is key.”
On the collapse with the Jets after an 8-3 start: “There were definitely things I could have done better, the players, the assistants. It’s never one person.”