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.