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Conflicting reports emerge regarding Lions’ pursuit of Whisenhunt

When hiring a head coach, it’s always important to project the notion that the team hired its first choice.  Even if it didn’t.

That reality makes it harder to read the tea leaves as they relate to the hiring of Ken Whisenhunt by the Titans.  Widely believed to be the first choice of the Lions, the perception now exists that Whisenhunt chose Tennessee over Detroit.

The problem for the Lions is that they deliberately kept quiet while the reports mounted linking Whisenhunt to Detroit.  If they didn’t really want Whisenhunt, it was a brilliant misdirection.  If they were interested but he wasn’t the front runner, it’ll now be hard to undo the notion that the Lions lost to the Titans in the race for Whisenhunt.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is elusive.  One source with direct knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Lions were indeed in play for Whisenhunt.  Another source with direct knowledge of the situation strongly disputes an NFL Network report that William Clay Ford’s private plane was sent to San Diego to fetch Whisenhunt and that he didn’t get on — calling the report “complete B.S.”

Speaking of misdirections, the Titans apparently employed one regarding Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.  As of Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Titans CEO Tommy Smith was so “smitten” with the Seahawks that Quinn was a likely finalist for the Tennessee job.  A day later, the Titans filled the job without even interviewing Quinn.

For the Lions, the search continues regardless of whether they wanted Whisenhunt.  Still, the failure to throw water on the idea that Whisenhunt was the first choice raises the stakes on the ultimate hire, inviting regular comparisons between Whisenhunt’s performance in Tennessee and the next Lions coach’s success or lack thereof in Detroit.

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52 Responses to “Conflicting reports emerge regarding Lions’ pursuit of Whisenhunt”
  1. thesmartest1 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:41 PM

    Race to the bottom. Tennessee won. What is it with Whisenhunt???

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Jan 13, 2014 8:44 PM

    I don’t care about the embarrassing publicity value of the move if they make a great hire and get somebody who can help both the Offense and Defense and really get the most out of the team. We need somebody that can finally bring a winning culture and attitude to the team, and if they can do that then the background story is meaningless.

  3. zvickers says: Jan 13, 2014 8:45 PM

    Titans won the race. In Ruston We Trust.

  4. rubenxx7 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:47 PM

    WIZ made the right choice. St
    afford is a coach killer

  5. ttommytom says: Jan 13, 2014 8:48 PM

    Who would take Tennessee over Detroit? A Duck Dynasty fan? That’s about it.

    Detroit has a great team in need of a good (disciplined) coaching staff.

    Tennessee doesn’t have a QB or an unproven one at best.

  6. blackandbluedivision says: Jan 13, 2014 8:48 PM

    So what you’re saying is half the time the media doesn’t know what they’re talking about, right?

  7. freebird2011 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:52 PM

    It is probably nothing more complicated than this:

    1. Whisenhunt had great success with Ray Horton as DC.

    2. Horton runs a 3-4 defensive system.

    3. The Lions are committed to a 4-3 defensive scheme having invested heavily in the DL to play that scheme.

    4. The Titans have the personnel to play a 3-4 scheme.


  8. metrocritical says: Jan 13, 2014 8:53 PM

    Based on all available info, it is impossible to believe that the Lions will ever make the right choice. 40 years ago, my father told me not to waste my time hoping for happiness from the Lions and now I’m doing the same with my kids. The more things change the more they stay the Lions.

  9. blacknole08 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:54 PM

    I too am wondering why he would pass at the chance to at least work with Stafford and Megatron. I Thought it was a lock that Whisenhunt would go there.

  10. egomaniac247 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:56 PM

    Wouldn’t the Lions have actually looked worse if they publically said they were pursuing Whis and not gotten him?

    I’m not sure how them staying silent on the issue makes them look worse.

  11. thelastbesthope says: Jan 13, 2014 8:57 PM

    Yep, that is the hiring game we are watching. It seems that both Detroit and Cleveland have a “destination” problem…as in the legacy of losing.

    Very tough to hire top talent when they perceive the overwhelming smell of defeat surrounding their new place of employment.

  12. jake6879 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:57 PM

    Whisenhunt was my first choice as HC in Washington. Gruden was 3rd or 4th down my list. We’ll see how it all plays out but I think Tennessee got a solid coach..

  13. urbusted2 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:57 PM

    As a Browns fan, I wish the media would quit guessing on all of these head coaching jobs. They’re usually wrong anyway.

  14. chrisk61 says: Jan 13, 2014 8:58 PM

    det probably wanted whisenhunt, who probably chose tenn over det for 3 reasons:

    1. tenn is in less competitive div and therefore has easier path to playoffs
    2. whisenhunt felt schwartz was a pretty good coach, and that if he couldn’t instill discipline on that team, it may be difficult for anyone to do so
    3. the chance of success with an injury prone jake locker ie can he stay healthy is higher than commitment to stafford, who may turn out to be overrated, a pseudo franchise qb and a coach killer.

    whisenhunt may have finally wised up after the kevin kolb debacle in the desert…

  15. cjach says: Jan 13, 2014 9:01 PM

    Detroit being Detroit!! You gotta love it

  16. matt2calvin says: Jan 13, 2014 9:05 PM

    If Whiz went to Detroit, the expectations would be a playoff team every year.

    If Whiz went to Tenn. the expectations would be to be competitive and hope for a winning record.

    If you are a new HC, which standard would you like to strive for every year?

    I don’t think Whiz is that great – i think he has won when he had an elite QB. That can be said of every NFL HC.

    When the season starts next year, nobody will care who was supposed to be HC in Detroit. The entire focus will be on the existing coach and the record they compile. Everything else is just fodder for the internet hacks to slop on our plate to increase eyeballs on their site…

  17. craigkintexas says: Jan 13, 2014 9:10 PM

    Can’t imagine any self-respecting coach walking into that ghetto of Detroit!

  18. drs76109 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:15 PM

    Maybe Dave Dombrowski will “Lend-lease” Jim Leyland…

    Seriously, Jim Caldwell is not a bad coach. Not a great coach, either, but they could do worse. Munchak is in the same category. Wade Phillips, too.

    I thought Whisenhunt would wind up in Detroit, too.

    Mike Zimmer is probably the best new HC face left available…although being acTemple guy, I am partial to Todd Bowles.

    Otherwise, you gotta wonder if maybe it’s the GM that is the problem or that folks feel the roster cannot be salvaged. And maybe they just take a chance on a nobody and maybe just get lucky…or live for another season.

  19. shockey19 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:15 PM

    The only conflicting report is the one about the plane. I have no idea where the NFL Network got that the plane went to San Diego and Whisenhunt didn’t get on, but they either misheard something or deliberately made something up. Every local reporter in Detroit who covers the Lions was talking about how the plane was ready to leave in the morning but never went anywhere. It was a pretty big story throughout the day.

    Other than that, it is crystal clear that Whisenhunt was far and away the Lions’ #1 choice even before they fired Schwartz. Caldwell, Munchak, Kubiak, and anybody else who ends up on their list now have all been available for weeks and the Lions consistently showed little to no interest in them. It’s not difficult to see the truth here.

  20. drs76109 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:18 PM

    And I have learned, after the insanity of reports on the Texas and Penn State searches, not to mention NFL searches, to take almost every report about searches very guardedly until there is the “official” team announcement. Just too many outright inaccuracies and innuendo masked as reporting have been done lately, including on this site which at least does not claim to be truly journalistic.

  21. pootytang66 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:19 PM

    We would like to thank the Tennessee Titans for taking Ken Whisenhunt from Detroit.

    Sincerely Viking Fans.

  22. lionzblue says: Jan 13, 2014 9:20 PM

    As a true Lions fan, I hope the organization was keeping quiet and throwing smoke screens. But my mind is telling me that the Lions put all there eggs in one basket and Rick Ross accidentally sat on it.

    That’s the risk of pursuing a coach that’s in the playoffs. It’s kind of a all or nothing deal.

  23. magnusantonius says: Jan 13, 2014 9:20 PM


  24. moeman79 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:22 PM

    Is coaching Detroit gonna be like Oakland 3 years ago? Going to need to find someone desperate or way under qualified to take the job.

  25. rockbottom37 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:23 PM

    Everybody talking about whisenhunt like he is the next coming of Lombardi …the guy had one good season in Arizona and has a losing record. Jim Caldwell has a shorter but better resume.

  26. vikescry1 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:24 PM

    I didn’t realize Detroit had a QB too? I thought they just had a guy throw sidearm to megatron all day?

  27. Ferdinand says: Jan 13, 2014 9:24 PM

    I do find it very interesting that nearly every sports pundit/blogger/analyst/wannabe said that Detroit was the dream job becasue of all the talent in place and yet they can’t seem to find a coach when the agreed upon worst job – Washington – got a perceived big fish pretty easily.

  28. dfco74 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:26 PM

    Surprising choice other than of course wanting to live in Tennessee over Detroit. Detroit has a more stable and better owner,a better qb and much better overall talent. Tennessee has good BBQ

  29. magnusantonius says: Jan 13, 2014 9:27 PM

    I’ve not read a singled report where Detroit actually said who they were “perusing” or who their “top candidate” was. The Lions have interviewed a few coaches. It’s the media that speculates who top candidates are not the organization. Of course the Lions have kept quiet, duh!! There are better candidates out there, they just happen to still be coaching in the playoffs.

  30. thefiesty1 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:28 PM

    Just another Detroit loss. So what else is new?

  31. briang123 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:29 PM

    No income tax in Tennessee. Better quality of life. Taxed through the roof is a dying and decrepit city. Easy choice, Megatron or not.

  32. motownlion says: Jan 13, 2014 9:30 PM

    All the Detroit bashing makes me laugh.. Most of the players and coaches live in Oakland County..The 3rd highest income per capita in the nation. No one lives in Detroit “proper”. It’s just a work address. Before you rip on the city, spend some time there. Great mueseums, great restaurants and great nite life. Thats why, over 70 percent of Detroit atheletes, once they retire, stay in the area. Look it up! Red Wings, Lions, Tigers, Pistons….Go back 20 years if you have too. You’ll see that they all call Metro Detroit “HOME” after their playing days. SO go on again, non informed, rascist, clueless, internet Trolls. We all know that your just throwing barbs from your terminal in your Moms Basement.

  33. joerymi says: Jan 13, 2014 9:31 PM

    If I am the Titans, I might be slightly worried if Whisenhunt turned down an offer there. MIGHT speak to a guy unwilling to work with some pressure on him.

    As far as Detroit, we will have our answer soon enough. If they hire someone that could have taken the job weeks ago (like Caldwell), we will know he wasn’t the first choice.

  34. salscobrakai says: Jan 13, 2014 9:37 PM

    I’m sorry, but there’s something not right with Matthew Stafford. Jack Locker doesn’t have the pure skills that Stafford does but his head is on straight and seems like he’ll listen. Stafford doesn’t seem like the type of guy who is willing to spend hours studying film and perfecting his craft. Give me someone who wants to be great over someone who can be great any day.

  35. salscobrakai says: Jan 13, 2014 9:42 PM

    Yes, I misspelled JAKE Locker before the bashing begins. The guy grew up a few hours from where I live. I had to endure 4 hours of WWJD from all these damn UW fans.

  36. elliottcovert says: Jan 13, 2014 9:48 PM

    What they really need is someone to instill the team with discipline. I don’t know much about Wisenhunt, but he seems like a quite, soft spoken guy to me, so that doesn’t seem like a good fit — though maybe Wiesnehunt is more of a disciplinarian than he lets on.

    What the Lions really need is someone more in the mold of Tom Coughlin, a tyrant who gets results through the time tested art of yelling at his players.

  37. haileysbadoldad says: Jan 13, 2014 9:48 PM

    He choose to live in Tennessee over Detroit, is it that shocking? Good move Ken!

  38. bhuggins9 says: Jan 13, 2014 9:52 PM

    You are already stuck with running a 4-3 defense whether you like it or not; because they invested too much money and high draft picks in the D-line.

    You have to come in and “fix” a delusional, dysfunctional, broken QB.

    And, you are expected to “Win Now” for an organization that has been a head coaching graveyard for over 50 years.

    Can’t imagine why Whiz didn’t take the job.

    Now the Lions will be stuck with an undesirable re-tread coach whose worse than Schwartz.

    Can’t wait for next season.

  39. uberMensch() says: Jan 13, 2014 10:03 PM

    I have to admit this is a bit of a head-scratcher. What offensive coach would not want to lead a team with what Detroit has on offense???
    ‘If I were the GM in Detroit, I would place a phone call to Brian Billick and gauge his interest in the job…

  40. Great Caesar's Ghost says: Jan 13, 2014 10:04 PM

    So Detroit gets a little egg on its face, big deal. If they hire a good coach it won’t matter. Brad Childress was supposed to interview with the Packers when Minnesota snatched him up, remember? Green Bay had to “settle” on McCarthy.

  41. wisconsinhillfolk says: Jan 13, 2014 10:11 PM

    Why is there an NFL franchise in Tennessee?

  42. balooga999 says: Jan 13, 2014 10:16 PM

    For all the “pundits” lauding how great a fit Whisenhunt was–primarily based on everything on the offensive side–it seemed most ignored the defensive side. There were strong indications that the Lions wanted to run a 4-3 base while Whisenhunt has always been more comfortable in the 3-4. Seems like that’s a philosophical gap they couldn’t bridge.

    Remember it’s telling the Lions fired Scott Linhan but I think it’s equally (or even more) telling that they retained Gunther Cunningham for the time being. The Lions don’t want to overhaul their defense either. Lets not act as if the defensive side of the ball is completely irrelevant, it’s part of the equation, and philosophy going forward for both Organization and Candidate.

  43. smcgaels1997 says: Jan 13, 2014 10:28 PM

    If they wait one more weekend there are a handful of very good coaches that’ll be available..better than Whiz

  44. slobberknocker says: Jan 13, 2014 10:40 PM

    Whisenhunt will hire Schwartz as defensive coordinator…book it.

  45. alonestartexan says: Jan 13, 2014 11:35 PM

    No one wants Schwartz in Tennessee, we’re hopeful for Horton or Wade Phillips at DC..

  46. realitypolice says: Jan 14, 2014 12:30 AM

    I don’t think the real question is what was Detroit’s real level of interest in Whiz. I think the real question is what did Whiz see when he went up there that made him determine that the Titans job was better.

    I don’t think anyone would say that personnel wise the Titans are set better than the Lions. Certainly not at the skill positions.

    And please don’t make your typical Detroit jokes. The places where the rich people live are just as nice there as they are anywhere else.

  47. steelchampions says: Jan 14, 2014 12:39 AM

    Interesting…you’d think with the Lions having alot of talent already in place they’d be the first choice if Whiz had both spots to choose from. Maybe he’d rather work with and build what he sees in the Titans than try to convince an unwilling Mathew Stafford he needs a position coach to improve his mechanics. Maybe it looked like too much trouble to try and get the star QB to ‘buy in’.

  48. davikes says: Jan 14, 2014 1:00 AM

    Is it true that Stafford was involved in the hiring process? That will turn a lot of coaches off right there. The coach needs to coach the QB, not get hired by the QB.

    In Tenn, Locker might have a year to prove himself, and if he can’t, Whiz can cut him. Stafford is untouchable in Detroit.

  49. lanman11 says: Jan 14, 2014 3:53 AM

    Isn’t it more important to GET the hire right than it is to make it LOOK like you got it right?

    There is only one non-expansion team never to appear in a Super Bowl. Shall I name them? They need a uniform change….

  50. bonniebengal says: Jan 14, 2014 6:24 AM

    I wonder what Detroit has up their sleeve. Possibly a big name like Cowher?

  51. burgundyandgold says: Jan 14, 2014 7:19 AM

    And no one was going to want to coach the Redskins…

  52. kst2074 says: Jan 14, 2014 7:47 AM

    Glad the Redskins got their man, Gruden was their first choice HTTR

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