According to regular poster 'Blog' on the Lions fan forum Lions Red Zone, former New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini spent last night at the Dearborn Ritz-Carlton. Mangini may well have interviewed with Mayhew/Lewand/Big Willie Style, but I doubt that he is the leading candidate and I doubt that the Lions are his most favored suitor.
To wit: Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Browns will be interviewing Mangini--this is significant because Mangini not only began his career with the Browns as a ballboy, the Browns are the only team that has been reported to attract reciprocal interest from Patriots VP of Player Personnel Scott Pioli.
Terry Foster of the Detroit News did an interview with 97.1 FM host Mike Valenti, and said that former Ravens head coach and current Fox broadcaster Brian Billick queried the Lions brass about their interest. Apparently the Lions wanted to bring Billick into the process immediately, but Billick got cold feet, and the Lions were not going to stall their interview process to wait around for him. It sounds as though Billick wanted to keep his options open, but the Lions are trying to move on this as soon as possible.
I've thought before that Billick would make a good fit--Jim Colletto was Billick's OL coach, RB coach Sam Gash played under Billick in Baltimore, Billick broadcast several Lions games this year and would practically not shut up about what opportunities the Lions had, what they could do better, his respect for Marinelli, etc. etc. etc. Still, it looks as though Billick thought he might have a better gig elsewhere if he waited around, and the Lions thought they could do just fine with the candidates they have.
Early on, Billick was my favored candidate--intelligent, has a Super Bowl ring, has won in Minnesota with explosive offense, has won in Baltimore with punishing defense, kind of splits the difference between "pretty boy players coach" Mariucci and "sawed-off field general" Marinelli . . . I figured with a strong veteran GM in place, like Floyd Reese, Billick could be the right personality to get moving in a different direction. However, with Mayhew and Lewand in place, the Lions' brass is going to be looking for a pure coach, a young fiery guy who'll stick to Xs and Os and speeches--and won't be second-guessing and undercutting them all the time. Just a case of bad timing? A missed opportunity? Or the Lions making the right call in looking for someone they know is thrilled to take the job? Only time will tell.
From John Niyo of the Detroit news, comes an interesting quote from cornerback Leigh Bodden.
If it was a coaching staff that really appreciated me and really liked what I did as a player, then, of course. That's really what I didn't get here, and it's hard to play for somebody like that. If they bring somebody in that respects the way I play -- because I'm one of the best in the league, and if a coaching staff can respect that -- then I'll be happy anywhere.
This jibes neatly with my earlier post--Bodden's a very good cover corner in a system that doesn't really need one. My guess is that with a strong defensive head coach, preaching the right system, Bodden will come around.
New Lions President Tom Lewand and GM Martin Mayhew held a presser today. Amongst the more interesting tidbits was a clarification on the power structure: Mayhew will in fact hold "final say" authority over all football matters. However the Lions are still looking for a third authority figure to serve as an assistant GM to Mayhew. This 'assistant GM' would almost certainly be a player personnel expert to help Mayhew out with draft and free agent acquisitions. Tom Kowalski of mlive.com had hinted at this possible arrangement, and floated the name of former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi as the type of candidate they'd be looking at. If we could get Accorsi in-house to do any kind of personnel work, I would be absolutely ecstatic.