Lions Coaching Staff Search Heats Up

New Lions coach will scout prospects and talk to possible assistant coaching candidates at Senior Bowl. Also inside: Is Joe Barry completely out of the running in Detroit after Tampa's denial? Not necessarily, says Lions' insider Mike Fowler.

ALLEN PARK - New Lions head coach Rod Marinelli will head to Mobile, AL., along with members of the Detroit Lions front office to evaluate pro prospects from among the 100 players scheduled to be in place for the weekend's Senior Bowl game. The contest, which takes place this Saturday, is a week-long opportunity to make acquaintances with the NFL fraternity.

While he's there, he'll likely interview a candidate or two for his coaching staff. The Senior Bowl is a great place to find coaches looking for work. Coaches whose contracts are expiring and those who have been part of staffs that have been dismissed are always on hand (with resumes) waiting to talk to the fortunate few who have secured head coaching jobs.

In addition, the bowl committee turns the game over to NFL coaching staffs, with Tennessee's Jeff Fisher coaching the North squad and San Francisco's Mike Nolan, the south squad.

Marinelli is one of those fortunate few who'll be sought out by eligible coaches from around the league and the hires he'll make will be among the most important moves that he'll make during his tenure as the Detroit Lions head man.

One move that will be delayed and maybe done away with altogether is the selection of the team's defensive coordinator. Tampa Bay linebacker's coach Joe Barry has been refused an opportunity to go to Detroit, at least for now.

Pressure, though, is mounting on the Buccaneers - through the media and from NFL sources - to review their long-standing policy under head coach Jon Gruden of denying coaches under contract the opportunity to interview for a job - even if it is a promotion.

For Barry, who desperately wants to be with his father-in-law in Detroit, it's an uncomfortable squeeze play being put on by the Buccaneers. It's especially uncomfortable knowing he has little chance for a promotion in Tampa, while a sure-fire promotion to defensive coordinator in Detroit awaits. In addition, the Bucs know Barry is a lame-duck, it's a lose-lose situation.

There has been some talk that NFL assistant coaches will approach the league to change the rule that allows teams to forbid a coach from interviewing for a promotion - except a head coaching job - under the premise that it stifles a coach's ability to ever become a NFL head coach.

Marinelli would have likely been stuck in Tampa as well had he not gotten Detroit's head coaching job. He has already been denied several opportunities to coordinate because of Tampa's repeated refusals.

Around the league, other coaches are moving to fill openings in their respective staffs and two coaches who Detroit were interested in, are no longer on the market.

Mike Mularkey, the former Bills head coach, who was reportedly offered the job as offensive coordinator for the Lions will instead take a similar position in Miami. Henry Ellard who was mentioned as a possible wide receivers coach, has instead signed a contract extension to stay on in St. Louis under new head coach Scott Linehan.

It is also possible that Greg Olson, who was Detroit's quarterbacks coach and defacto offensive coordinator under interim coach Dick Jauron, will become offensive coordinator under Linehan, who intends to run a version of the West Coast offense in St. Louis. The Atlanta Falcons also want to interview Olson as a possible quarterbacks coach under coordinator Greg Knapp. Jauron has been named the Buffalo Bills head coach.

Detroit has named at least one assistant, Phil Snow, a former staff mate of Marinelli from their days together at the University of California, as a defensive assistant. His exact role with the defense is still to be defined.

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