(ALLEN PARK, MI) -- What are Lions fans wishing for this season? How about a season with a double-digit win total? Would you settle for a winning season? The #1 overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft? How about a new head coach?
Many Lions fans would love the latter, and many are wishing that an Iron Mountain, MI native, Steve Mariucci could some how become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.
Keep the faith. You could see your wish come true, perhaps as early as next month.
Reports originating from the West Coast, particularly the San Francisco Bay area persist that Mariucci is just a playoff loss from being ousted as head coach of the 49'ers. Those reports also link Mariucci to a last-gasp attempt by Matt Millen to hold on to his job as president of the Detroit Lions.
Here's how the scenario goes:
The Lions finish their season on Sunday with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings at home, finishing their season at 3-13. On the heels of that finish, Matt Millen will step up and announce that he is firing current head coach Marty Mornhinweg. Millen will take much of the blame for the Lions lousy record over the last two years and say he regrets firing Mornhinweg, but the team's inability to win even one road game over a two-year period was too much to retain the coach.
Then, Detroit will move to add Mariucci after San Francisco invariably loses in the first or second round of the playoffs. Millen will say that Mariucci was the coach he wanted all along. Remember, Mariucci was reportedly set to join Millen in Detroit four years ago, but Ford, Sr. passed on the whole idea of bringing in Millen.
Why would San Francisco be in such a hurry to get rid of a coach as successful as Mariucci? Sources from the west coast say that the 49'ers hierarchy doesn't believe that Mariucci is tough enough on his players and runs too loose a ship. They point to his press conference following a tough loss to Green Bay when he made jokes with the press and was seemingly unfazed by the loss that impacted their playoff position. They also point to his seeming inability to handle tough personalities like Terrell Owens who many feel is a loose cannon that is embarrassing the franchise.
Those same sources say that San Francisco would love to get either of Walsh former protege's Mike Holmgren of Seattle or Dennis Green, formerly of Minnesota, back into the Garnet and Gold to give the team the narrow minded focus they believe Mariucci lacks.
While Mariucci would prefer to stay on the West Coast, there are only two jobs available there and the other, in Oakland is filled. If Seattle fires Mike Holmgren that might be an opening, but the Pacific Northwest doesn't have as much appeal as a return to the Michigan area where he grew up and still has roots. Mariucci returns to the area each year to run a charity golf tournament with his best friend, Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.
The move would give Detroit instant credibility because Mariucci has been successful in almost every place he's been. Detroit would likely give Maurice Carthon first look to satisfy the NFL's mandate that minority candidates be interviewed but that would be about the extent of it. Detroit isn't going to go for another coach without head coaching experience.
The only rub would be if Millen would share some of his power with Mariucci and if he requested additional input, how would it play with Millen. Millen clearly is on a short leash with the Ford's and they would likely be open to allowing Mariucci more input, a move that might trigger Millen to walk. That would require a general restructuring of the whole Lion front office.
Of course, all of this depends on Mariucci losing in either the first or second round of the playoffs. If Mooch runs the table and gets his squad to the Super Bowl, there is no way the Niners brass could broom him no matter what they think of his methods.
Lions' fans don't have visions of Sugar plums dancing in their heads, its more like visions of Mooch in Honolulu blue and silver.