It started on Tuesday when a report surfaced that Patriots coach Bill Belichick had lobbied hard for Greg Schiano to be considered for the Cleveland Browns head coaching position.
According to TheMMQB.com’s Peter King, he had called the Browns twice about the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers coach, who he happens to call a friend.
Belichick’s name has been tied to the Browns ever since. More revelations of his connections to Cleveland’s upheaval continued to be reported through Wednesday.
Late Tuesday, Chris Fedor of 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland reported that Mike Lombardi, who had previously worked with Belichick and was fired by the Browns last week, was on his way to work in New England.
On Wednesday morning, Mary Kay Cabot reported for Cleveland.com that Belichick had also lobbied for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to be considered for the Browns head coaching gig all the way up until the team hired Mike Pettine on Jan. 23. McDaniels had previously taken his name out of the running for the head coaching gig, but according to Cabot had second thoughts.
Within about 24 hours after McDaniels pulled out of the search, he called to get back in, sources close to the situation told Cleveland.com. This was contrary to a report on NFL Network that the Browns called McDaniels and tried to lure him back into the mix.
Regardless, he remained in the running right up until the end, when the Browns hired Pettine on Jan. 23. In fact, he received the support and recommendation of Belichick right up until the 11th hour.
It’s interesting to note that Belichick vouched for both Schiano and McDaniels for the same job. Belichick had the ear of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, whom, along with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, he had encouraged to interview Schiano.
That’s apparently when the discord among the Browns’ front office came to fruition.
Browns CEO Joe Banner was against interviewing Schiano, according to Cabot, while Banner also feuded with Lombardi during the team’s coaching search. Meanwhile Haslam was becoming “weary” of them both.
Lombardi, who worked with Belichick while the Patriots coach was in Cleveland in his first stint with the franchise, was being targeted by Banner after just a little more than a year on the job for his performance, while Haslam targeted Banner for his job because he felt the CEO was the reason prospective coaches were either hesitant to interview or accept the Browns head coaching gig.
Belichick’s involvement may be limited to just pushing for his top assistant and friend, but it comes at a time when Cleveland’s front office shakeup was toxic for everyone involved.
The Browns have a new coach in Pettine, a new general manager with Ray Farmer, and have Haslam to look to for guidance. It’s a drastic change from a little more than a year ago when the Browns brought in Banner, Lombardi, and head coach Rob Chudzinski to lead the team. Cleveland has essentially wiped the slate clean. It just so happens that Belichick’s name keeps popping up, even after the fallout. If he hires Lombardi, the Patriots coach will still be the buzz of Cleveland, some 14 years after he was dismissed.