Green In Detroit Picture?

Rumors out of Detroit have some wondering if Steve Mariucci is a lock for the Lions head coaching job.

When the Detroit Lions once again embarrassed themselves with a press conference to announce the firing of Marty Mornhinweg -- a spectacle that came less than a month after saying he would return in 2003 and allowed him to hire a couple of assistants -- the immediate reaction was that the job is going to Steve Mariucci.

The scenario makes sense. Mooch and the Lions had been the topic of discussion during the season, as word got out of a meeting between G.M. Matt Millen and Mooch took place after the 2001 season.

The Detroit media has jumped on the story, with one newspaper doing an on-line poll asking fans if they think Mariucci will make a difference in 2003 -- the clear assumption being that the job is his.

However, there are a couple of flies in the ointment. First is that the NFL is requiring teams to interview minority candidates for any head coaching opening, something the Lions have yet to do but claim they will. The second is that Mariucci said Monday he hasn't been contacted about the Lions vacancy.

A rumor making the rounds in Detroit is that Denny Green may be the top candidate for the Lions job, since he has a familiarity with the West Coast Offense run in Detroit and an acute familiarity with the teams in the NFC North. One rumor even claims that Mooch is under a secretive agreement with another team waiting to lop a head coach -- but that has also been interpreted that his agreement struck after being fired by the 49ers was, in fact, with the Lions.

Like most of you, VU is pretty convinced that Mariucci will be the man hired to lead the Lions next year. But Green's name is sure to come up. In the meantime, we'll have to wait and see how Detroit manages the league mandate of interviewing minority candidates. If it is done with the same aplomb that Millen has handled other matters, it will surely be botched and embarrassing. Regardless, it looks like M&M II is preparing to open at a stadium near you in 2003.

* VU has been told that Green is doing some serious behind-the-scenes lobbying for the 49ers job. But, considering his run-in with Terrell Owens and the perception that he has been a thorn in the side of ownership with his last two ownership groups, Green isn't the ideal candidate in some eyes that he is in others. He was dismissed from consideration in Jacksonville because of sexual harassment allegations made against him in his Vikings days and lost out on that job to one of his former players, Jack Del Rio.
* Two defensive players VU keeps hearing that the Vikings will chase in free agency are Lions LB Chris Claiborne and Arizona safety Kwamie Lassiter. Claiborne, who was shifted to middle linebacker last year and later called out by Millen in another embarrassing soundbite, is seen by the Vikings as an outside linebacker who can blitz. Lassiter, we're being told, has been given a recommend from former teammate Corey Chavous and could answer some of the lingering questions at the safety position.

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