BEREA, Ohio — Mike Holmgren spoke to the local media for nearly an hour Monday and answered questions concerning the decision to fire Eric Mangini. Holmgren said he "probably" won't coach the Browns, but he didn't rule it out.
Holmgren said it was more a priority to get the right hire than to hire a coach for continuity sake. He said the Browns have already begun the process for hiring Mangini's successor, as the team has sent out at least two requests to interview candidates.
One of the requests is believed to be Giants' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
Here are some of the highlights of the discussion:
Q: Are you a candidate to become the coach, since you said you wanted to get the best candidate?
Holmgren: That's very nice of you to say, but at this stage of my life I'm enjoying the role that Randy Lerner gave me. I want to get us to where we want to get in this position.
Q: During the bye week you sounded as though you missed coaching, leading fans to believe you might take the position. What changed?
Holmgren: I think I'm a pretty good coach and there are a lot of young coaches and I am anxious to talk to them. Right now, my focus is on putting a list of candidates together.
Since the midpoint of the season, I have been thinking about it a lot. I didn't know what my reaction would be sitting on the sideline. I know what it takes time wise and unless you're sure you're ready to commit to that and with wonderful conversations with my young bride, it isn't something I feel ready to do.
Q: At 62, do you wonder if you don't take the position, you might not have the opportunity again?
Holmgren: How old is Joe Paterno? I enjoyed the bright lights for quite some time.
Q: Will you take a coaching job with another team this year?
Holmgren: I'm not going to coach another team.
Q: Is it important to bring in a coach to develop Colt McCoy?
Holmgren: I think if you think Colt is ‘the guy'. I see the potential in him, but who the head coach is, who the offensive coordinator is and the position coach are important for every team. If you have a quarterback who you think could be the quarterback for the next 10- to 15 years it is even more important.
Q: Will you insist a coach runs the West Coast offense?
Holmgren: I don't think you can do that. If I hire a coach, I hire a coach. I am not going to interfere it that way as president. I didn't do it this year and I won't do it. I do think the system is important.
Q: How important is the next coach?
Holmgren: This is huge. I don't want to do this again. Historically, teams that don't do this very often are successful. You go through some bumps in the road if you know you have the right guy.
Q: What makes you confident you can attract a top coach to the Browns?
Holmgren: This is one of the great jobs. There are 32 jobs. You're a head coach in the National Football League. If you're a head coach, that is what you want to be. There is a challenge that appeals to men in this business.
Q: Have you started the search for a new coach?
Holmgren: About noon we sent out NFL protocol requests on two individuals.
Q: Have you contacted John Fox or Jon Gruden?
Holmgren: Those two fellows I know very well. They are outstanding football coaches. I would expect those two guys would be candidates on a lot of people's lists. I haven't talked to either John, that would've been premature.
Q: Do you feel you need to keep some continuity?
Holmgren: The here we go again feeling is real. I am not thinking much about continuity right now. I am trying to find the right person. We have to play better. I don't want to (hire a new coach) again. Why I understand why people would say this, I think it's important to get it right.
Q: Did Randy Lerner ask you about coaching the team?
Holmgren: We talked about that. I don't remember his exact words, but he just wanted to open the discussion and get me thinking what was best for me and my family and what would be best for the Cleveland Browns. At the very least, it was to get me thinking about what I wanted and getting me thinking about doing the right thing.
Q: Was Randy Lerner on board with the move to fire Mangini?
Holmgren: Randy and I talk daily and we meet at the very least, weekly. We talk about everything involving this organization. That's just a normal part of the talks. As we approached the end of the season, we continued to talk. The beauty of our relationship is brought me here to do a job and he lets me do that. He's been involved all the way along and he was the first person I talked to and he went with it.
Q: Is there a ceiling on who the candidates might be, budget-wise as guys like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher would seem to want a lot of money to leave their positions?
Holmgren: There is no budget. We are to do what we feel we need to do.
Q: Is it fair to say you would be looking at a more offensive-minded coach?
Holmgren: I don't want to be painted into a corner (on an offensive minded coach versus a defensive- minded coach).
If it's the right guy, it doesn't matter. I have to look at everything to come to the right decision for this team.
Q: When did you make your decision to fire Mangini?
Holmgren: This morning. I have stayed true that I would make any decision at the end of the season. That's how I made the decision to keep Eric. I didn't sleep very well. It was very difficult, I've never had to do this before. I like the man a lot, but unfortunately, I want to win here and we didn't want to win enough games.
Q: Are you open to college coaches, as well as NFL coaches?
Holmgren: We've compiled lists columns and college coaches are on that list.
Q: Do you think the team is better than last year?
Holmgren: That's tough to answer. The improvement we made other than the last game, we were competitive in every game. I don't think you could've said that a year ago. Some of our young people performed pretty well.
My expectations for the team were higher. This is a great game, but at times a tough business.
Q: Are you limiting the search to coaches who you've been affiliated in the past, the perceived Holmgren coaching tree?
Holmgren: I'm not limiting the search to the (Holmgren tree). We will open up the search and am not limiting (the search)to having had head coaching experience.
Q: Will the labor situation or the playoffs affect the hiring process?
Holmgren: The labor situation no, but what affects the process is the playoffs. That is the only restriction. I'd like to get it done sooner than later, but am not going to rush the process.
Q: Were the assistant coaches let go, as well?
Holmgren: I met with the assistant coaches today and will meet with them next Monday. I told them to take a week off. They are all under contract for another year. As things clear up with the head coach, we'll have clarity. That's a good group of guys who work very hard.