Jaguars Choose Substance Over Style In Hiring Mularkey As New Coach
Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan and GM Gene Smith yesterday introduced Mike Mularkey as the third full-time head coach in the history of the franchise during a news conference “with little fluff and an emphasis on substance,” according to Tania Ganguli of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Khan said that he “passed over flashier candidates, whom he did not name, in favor of the one he and Smith thought could help the Jaguars win.” Certain details of Mularkey’s contract “have yet to be finalized, but the Jaguars reached a three-year agreement with him -- the same length of Smith’s contract.” Khan said, “I wanted to see how I connected with him. I mean a key point -- you can’t come in and have a grid. This is my system and you impose it on the Jacksonville Jaguars. You have to come in with the flexibility and the brain power that, ‘I have these players, and how do I win with them?’” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/12). Khan said that it “will be a challenge for the Jaguars, who finished 5-11 this season, to get the fans off their couch into the stadium.” He said that “his definition of a Jaguars fan is a season-ticket holder.” Khan: “The game-day experience has to be better than their couch experience. I think it’s a two-way street. We have to make the experience be so over the top for them so they want to come out. It is not a sense of entitlement. I want to make that clear. We want to earn the right for them to go out there” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/12).
NOT THE FLASHY HIRE: The TIMES-UNION’s Ganguli wrote Mularkey’s hire “wasn't a flashy hire,” but that is “not important” for Khan. Ganguli: “What's next matters more.” The introduction “starkly contrasted with that of former Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio nine years ago,” where fans were invited to “a hybrid pep rally and press conference and led in a cheer of Del Rio's last name” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/11). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote the Jaguars “did the safe, practical thing” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/11). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said of the Mularkey hire, “I don't know how they greet this with any kind of real enthusiasm. You saw Jaguars games last year, all those empty seats. I don't want to call him a retread; two years is not a long time to be in Buffalo. He may deserve another chance, but they need somebody who can sell tickets.” SB Nation's Bomani Jones asked, “Who are they going to get on the coaching wire that was going to sell tickets?" L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: “You would think that a pro football team in the middle of SEC country could find some great football coach somewhere than a guy who was 14-18 in Buffalo. … I thought it was an uninspired hire” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 1/11).
SOCIAL STUDIES: In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino writes Khan in choosing Mularkey used the mantra: “Think smart instead of splash.” Khan said that the Jaguars “made the smart choice even though making a splash might have made it easier to sell tickets.” Khan: “It was about after the splash, are they going to be successful? When you start sobering up, how does it feel?” Khan compared the reaction to Mularkey’s hire “to the mixed reaction when it was announced he was buying the team" from Wayne Weaver. Khan: “If you look at social media, I don’t know what the numbers are, it’s probably half and half. Some people say it’s great, other people say it’s not so good. That’s OK.” He added, “I think when Wayne announced he was selling the team, probably more than half said, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is a disaster. The team is going to move. Who is this guy coming in? Are we going to have beer in the stadium? Gosh, it’s some Muslim.’ The social media was abuzz. (But) if half thought it was good that the team was being sold, we only have to work on the other half. This is just like that” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/12).
SLIM PICKINS: In DC, Dan Daly wrote of the current pool of possible NFL head coaching candidates, “It’s a desert out there, folks. For every oasis, every proven winner like Jeff Fisher, there are a dozen prospects who do virtually nothing to excite the fan base.” He continued: “You get the sense these head coaching positions aren’t quite as desirable as they used to be -- that they’re invitations to burnout, as much as anything, and aren’t necessarily worth the bother, despite the attractive compensation and general ego boost” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/11).