Sources: Munchak Turned Down Titans' Conditional Contract Extension Offer
Titans President & CEO Tommy Smith on Friday offered a multiyear extension to coach Mike Munchak at almost double his $3M salary, "conditional upon Munchak making more than a dozen staff firings and demotions," but Munchak "stood on principle" and refused, leading to his dismissal, according to sources cited by Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com. Sources said that Smith's "guarded optimism" after the meeting that Munchak would "agree to the conditions and return was in part tied to the belief that after Munchak slept on it, he would have a change of heart Saturday." But that "never happened." In the organization, there was "additional concern about its offseason marketing campaign." Sources said that Munchak "wouldn't buy a concept of change for change's sake." That "led to his dismissal on Saturday" (ESPN.com, 1/5). In Nashville, Jim Wyatt noted Munchak was "told he’d have to make changes that would involve firing some of his best friends." There also was "uncertainty about a contract extension, which he’d need to bolster efforts to improve the staff and roster." The Titans parted with Munchak "after three seasons of struggling to rise above mediocrity." Munchak was "with the franchise for 31 years -- as a player, then an assistant coach and finally as head coach" -- and "essentially fired himself with one year left on his four-year contract." Titans Exec VP & GM Ruston Webster will "spearhead the process" of finding a replacement (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/5). Munchak: "I can’t fire someone when I don’t believe they should be fired. Firing someone is awful. Too many people were going to be affected. I didn’t do anything to look like I was a great, loyal guy who went above and beyond the call of duty by not firing coaches. I did what you should do and what I thought was right." Munchak added, "I’ll make tough decisions, but not if they’re not right" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/5).
THE DECIDING FACTOR: ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky wrote Munchak is an "admirable, dignified and honest man." He was "fresh air at the start." But while he "maintained the respect of his players, Munchak and his staff were poor at adjusting to game circumstances that strayed from the initial plan" (ESPN.com, 1/4). Kuharsky noted the Titans "didn't outright fire one of the most beloved and important figures in the team's history," instead putting him in a "situation where he was the one making a decision" (ESPN.com, 1/4).