Column: All Signs Point to Mariucci

Despite a press conference that did not include any mention of former 49'ers head coach Steve Mariucci, except that he might be considered a candidate, the smoke screen cannot prevent the inevitable. Actions speak louder than words, something that will be proven shortly when Mariucci is named head coach.

In a press conference scheduled on short notice Monday, GM Matt Millen fired head coach Marty Mornhinweg. The move came as a surprise considering Millen assured Mornhinweg his job around a month ago, saying there would be no changes in regards to his job and Mornhinweg’s, announced in Millen’s last press conference.

Millen’s press conference went as well as it could have. Many think that he sidestepped a lot of questions, which is true -- but he had no choice. According to NFL rules, which were reiterated by league commissioner Paul Tagliabue a week ago, when there is a job opening, and a successor or replacement is being looked for, a minority candidate must be interviewed. The rule, although it has its reasons for being implemented, is what probably kept Millen from naming a new head coach today, or in the next day or two.

People asked Millen if he had a candidate in mind, and he said no. The truth is, he probably has the exact person he wants in mind, he was just held down from naming the candidate because of the minority interviewing rule. He can’t just say "I have a person in mind, however we have to interview a few other people before I hire him." That would not only be in bad taste, but it would more than likely be in violation of the rule.

Questions arise about why Millen didn’t pull the trigger a month ago, before he assured Mornhinweg his job as the Detroit Lions head coach, instead of now. Why now? What has changed? Well, most notably, Steve Mariucci was fired from San Francisco. A flag went up that signaled Millen to make a move -- and he has. Millen had to make the announcement regarding his job as well as Mornhinweg’s when he found out. He didn’t have the time to wait on the status of Mariucci. So he said that no changes would be made. But when Mariucci was suddenly available, Millen was forced to go back on his word.

The next question is, is former Vikings' head coach Dennis Green a viable candidate? Probably not, if he was he’d have been hired long ago, perhaps even before Mariucci was available. He might get an interview, but that’s just to satisfy the league’s minority rule. Current offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis is also another option. Neither will get the job, however.

The last question is -- what did Millen say to Mornhinweg regarding his release? Why was Millen reluctant to say the reason in his press conference? When asked what he gave Mornhinweg as the reason to which he was let go, he replied "Uhh, that’s private, actually."

Sound fishy? A little suspicious? Well, don’t worry. What Millen probably told him was that Steve Mariucci was available, and the move was too good to pass up, therefore forcing Marty out. It’s an unfortunate circumstance -- but it needed to happen. The reason Millen needed to hide what he told Marty goes right back to the minority rule. Matt couldn’t have told the media the truth. And although he didn’t do a very good job at lying about it -- he frequently stumbled over his comments, he did an adequate job considering the solution is blatantly obvious.

Steve Mariucci will become the next head coach for the Detroit Lions. It's just a matter of time.


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