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The Arizona Cardinals’

Baffling Coaching Search

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Former offensive coordinator, Todd Haley (left) and Arizona Cardinals team President, Michael Bidwill (right).
After Parting Ways With The Winningest Coach In Team History, Franchise Has Kept Media Professionals, World Guessing About Candidates, Frontrunners

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By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine

Jan. 10, 2013 — Replacing a legend isn’t easy.

Just ask the experts trying to cover the Arizona Cardinals’ coaching search.

When the longest tenured and winningest coach in franchise history, Ken Whisenhunt, was let go almost two weeks ago, Michael Bidwill dropped a name at his press conference: former Philadelphia Head Coach Andy Reid. Big time media-types salivated.

For at least a day, Reid was a ‘virtual lock’ to be named the coach of the Arizona Cardinals. It was basically a done deal. Sure, he hadn’t even been interviewed yet, but it was a all but assured — all of the blogs, newspapers, websites and commentators said so, after all.

But on the way to Arizona, Reid took a stop in Kansas City and according to reports, he never left. About a day after he was going to be the next coach of the Arizona Cardinals he was the newest coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Who knows what really happened behind the scenes. Did Bidwill purposely sent the media off in the wrong direction with a bit of misdirection that might have been the greatest offensive play call the franchise made this season? Or, did Bidwill get manhandled by a savvy professional who decided to go to another family-owned, legendary franchise, but one historically more apt to let the football men run the team.

Almost immediately after the weirdness of the Reid episode was beginning to subside came the Haley Comet — former offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Unlike the more famous Halley’s Comet, the current offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers seems to come around as a potential next head coach for the Cardinals more often than every 75 years.

First he was in, then he was out. Then he was going to interview, then he was not. Then he was in Arizona. Some members of the media were defending the fact that they knew nothing and were reporting things from people that either were lying or were deceived themselves.

Haley’s agent, Jerome Stanley, even went on the record to defend his earlier statement to Ian Rapoport of the NFL.com that Haley was not “interviewing” with the Cardinals.

Maybe he is simply negotiating.

Would the Cardinals really need to formally “interview” Haley? They know him just about as well as they know Ray Horton, current defensive coordinator and a head coach candidate himself. Maybe all Bidwill and newly promoted General Manager Steve Keim are finding out is how much cash Haley wants and if he can live with not making all of the decisions.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter. Eventually the team will choose the new coach. It might be Haley. It might be Jay Gruden, Mike McCoy or Ray Horton. It could be someone else.

The fact is Michael Bidwill will be the final arbiter and he didn’t do too bad with the first head coach he hired: Whisenhunt. But depending on how the team performs over the next few years, he may rue the day he fired the winningest coach in franchise history.

Pundits and fans alike may think they know which way the team should go, but even the best perceptions can be flawed. Does anyone remember Buddy Ryan winning his introductory press conference in 1994 when he ceremoniously declared, “you’ve got a winner in town?”

It is always fun for fans to follow the drama as a team looks for a new coach or moves players. What makes this drama even more entertaining is watching the ‘media’ fumble the reporting. It is like an edition of Football Follies.

It has highlighted the negative side that Twitter-based reporting can have on information dissemination. Five years ago, someone like NFL.com’s Rapoport would have not had a forum to so quickly be wrong.

There is no instant replay for journalists.

After a season of lackluster and boring football, the Arizona Cardinals have found a way to baffle and entertain.

As much fun as it has been, though, a playoff appearance would be much more fun.

Good luck, Bidwill.

Bob Goodwood can be reached at bob.goodwood@yahoo.com.
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