(ALLEN PARK, MI) -- The Detroit Lions and Steve Mariucci have agreed on a whopping five-year deal worth approximately $25 million. A press conference is scheduled for tommorrow afternoon at 4:00pm at Ford Field to announce Mariucci as the 22nd Detroit Lions head coach.
Mariucci will match Steve Spurrier as the highest paid head coach in the NFL. Mariucci is believed to be en-route to Detroit at this hour and will arrive this evening to sign the deal.
Even if Mariucci's contract does make him the highest paid coach in the NFL, don't blame Lions fans if they feel they got a bargain. After suffering through two years of ineptitude under former head coach Marty Mornhinweg -- a period where Detroit failed to win a single road game and lost eight straight to finish the season -- to a man, the fans feel they have a real winner in Mariucci.
Who could blame them? After all, Mariucci was one of only thirteen head coaches to lead his team to a division title in his first year (1997) as a head coach. He set an NFL mark for consecutive wins by a head coach (13). His 49-36 win loss record is one of the best of any Lions coach. Detroit hasn't had a coach with this kind of pedigree since Joe Schmidt (43-35-7)
At just 47 years old, Mariucci is known as an offensive innovator. The young and charismatic Mariucci, not Marty Mornhinweg, who was responsible for much of the development of a young Brett Favre. The Green Bay signal caller thought so much of Mariucci that when he was named head coach at the University of California-Berkeley (Cal), Favre called his position coach to make him an offer.
"I'll pay you whatever they're going to pay you to stay here," Favre told Mariucci.
That's the kind of value and knowledge Lions quarterback Joey Harrington can expect to get in his new head coach. Harrington, along with backup Mike McMahon (a Jeff Garcia clone) can expect to have their understanding and production of the West Coast offense greatly accelerated.
The move is not without detractors. Leading civil rights advocates, attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri are protesting the hiring saying Detroit didn't play fairly.
"The Lions have seriously threatened to undermine and potentially violate the new NFL minority hiring policy approved by team owners in December," Cochran and Mehri said in a statement. "Prior to conducting a single interview, General Manager Matt Millen essentially crowned Steve Mariucci as the Lions' new head coach. He might well have put up a sign at Lions headquarters reading, 'Head Coaching Vacancy: Minorities Need Not Apply.'"
Lions offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis is reportedly denying that he interviewed for the job. That would mean that no African-American candidates were officially interviewed for the position and could put Detroit is jeopardy of being fined by the NFL. It is unclear what effect the Black Coaches Association advisory to candidates not to interview with Detroit will have on any potential league action against the Lions.
The Mariucci family includes his wife Gayle and four children: sons, Tyler (age 18), Adam (age 16). Stephen (age 14) and daughter, Brielle (age 7).