ALLEN PARK - FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer is reporting that Steve Mariucci has been fired as head coach of the Detroit Lions.
Scout.com's Mike Fowler also heard from similar sources that Mariucci would be released from his contract today, despite having two season remaining.
According to Fowler's sources, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron would take over as interim head coach and would have his contract sweetened, but has not received any assurances that he would be considered for the head coaching job beyond this year.
In almost three seasons, Mariucci finished with just 15 wins and 28 losses. Entering 2005, armed with talent at the skill positions and a quarterback in his fourth season, the Lions have stumbled to a 4-7 start.
Following Thursday's loss, a visibly drained and troubled Mariucci took responsibility for his team's inadequacies.
"I told them (in the locker room) I shoulder the responsibility for this football team," said Mariucci. "When you look at our team, it is not necessarily any one thing -- there is a multitude of things that a head coach is responsible for, whether that is the offense, the defense, the kicking game, the conditioning, the fitness level, the health on and off the field - all of it.
"All of it - that is what a head coach is responsible for."
The Detroit Lions nor Mariucci were immediately available for comment. The Lions will likely turn to defensive coordinator Dick Jauron as head coach. Jauron previously coached the Chicago Bears before joining Detroit.
Mariucci entered Detroit in 2003 amid a raucous fan fare. The Iron Mountain, MI native and former Northern Michigan quarterback joined the organization after his dismissal from San Francisco, where he enjoyed several successful seasons. In his six years with the 49ers, Mariucci led the team to four playoff berths and two division titles.
The Lions fired then head coach Marty Mornhinweg the moment Mariucci became available. At the time, Mariucci was clearly current vice president Matt Millen's preferred coach.
Apparently, it was too evident.
Upon signing Mariucci to a five-year, $25 million contract, the Lions were penalized another $200,000 for not adhering to the league's minority interview process. Current Arizona Cardinals' coach Dennis Green, an African-American, was available at the time, but declined an interview because of the general consensus that Mariucci was unequivocal choice.
Unfortunately, his reputation and success never made the trip to Detroit.
Recognized as an offensive guru, Mariucci's offense stumbled to last place in 2003, 24th overall in 2004, and is currently sixth-to-last in the league in production.
As for Jauron, he has a pedigree as a conservative defensive minded coach who would emphasize a strong run game tied to play-action passing.
There is some thought that Jauron (35-46 as Bears head coach) would move to replace current offensive coordinator Ted Tollner with quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, an assistant with Jauron during his tenure in Chicago. Whether this comes to fruition or not one thing is certain, Jauron will certainly alter the current play book to reflect his style over the next few days.
Lions head coach Steve Mariucci compiled a 15-28 in his three year tender with Detroit, but will pocket another $10 million from the franchise as long as he does not take another head coaching job.