Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Lions' Ugly Betty Coaching Job Could Be An America Ferrera

The Lions really do have an attractive job to offer potential head coaches. No, really, they do. Too bad they keep trying to make it as ugly as possible.

The Lions' coaching job, under the right circumstances, is like America Ferrera: out of makeup, it's pleasant to look at. But the Lions are making it into America's alter ego, Ugly Betty.

This is what the Lions have to offer, before they uglied it up: a ravenous fan base; lots of salary cap money; excellent team facilities; nowhere to go but up; the opportunity to write a job ticket for life, in Detroit or elsewhere, if successful.

Here's what the Ugly Betty version is: a wretched roster with little say in its makeup; no big-time money; a front office with 0-16 odors all over it who is resistant to hiring a bona fide football guy.

The Lions are going for coaching on the cheap again.

They are taking their seat at the NFL's poker table with laughably fewer chips than their colleagues who are also in search of a new head coach.

They're setting themselves up for another Marty Mornhinweg or Rod Marinelli disaster -- aka hiring a guy who wants to be a head coach in the NFL in the worst way. Well, that's what you would be, in Detroit, under these circumstances: a head coach in the worst way.

It apparently isn't ugly enough that the roster is severely talent challenged. Not ugly enough that the personnel input is apparently not going to be there in full force. Not ugly enough that the new guy has to work under what will be a three-man committee, two of whom are part of a regime that has orchestrated a 31-97 record (4-12 avg.) since 2001.

The sad thing is, the Lions' coaching job could be very much America Ferrera and not Ugly Betty.

Money. Authority. Control. The Big Three as far as NFL head coaches are concerned. Ironic that a team whose city is synonymous with the Big Three automakers can't come close to offering the Big Three to its next head coach.

The Lions keep getting it wrong.

The Lions' head coaching job (left) as it could be; the way they're portraying it (right)

They gave Monte Clark the fancy title of Head Coach and Director of Football Operations in 1978, but GM Russ Thomas was still around, and so that title was largely a snow job on Monte. As long as Thomas, a close friend of Bill Ford Sr., was still in the Lions' employ, there wasn't going to be TRUE power for the coach.

They gave Bobby Ross some power, but his players confounded him. He committed a self-ziggy in 2000, and if you read anything about Bobby, you'll find out that he considered doing the same thing at San Diego and, before that, at Georgia Tech. He quit at Army, too. Bobby tends to get flustered and want to vamoose. But the Lions apparently either didn't know that or didn't care when they hired him in 1997.

Before and in between there's been a lot of hiring on the cheap: Rick Forzano, Tommy Hudspeth, Mornhinweg, Marinelli. They threw a lot of dough at Steve Mariucci, but did little to no due diligence on Mooch, either.

If reports are true that the Lions are interested in Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, then the situation becomes even more slapstick. You can count on one hand how many college coaches have successfully made the transition to the NFL, and you'd have at least one middle finger left over.

The Lions are trying to do this major, major reclamation project in the same manner that a man shows up to a gun battle with a knife. And they're setting themselves up to slicing their own throats. Again.

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