Mike Mularkey was hired as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. The story broke at halftime of the AFC playoff game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs.
There was a reason for the timing. And it took fans only minutes to revolt.
Mularkey was never suppose to be the hire. This was going to be a new era. A new general manager and a new head coach.
The Titans found their new general manager in Jon Robinson. But the team stayed the course with the hiring of Mularkey.
Unfortunately, staying the course these days is seasons of 2-14 and 3-13.
When Titans controlling owner Amy Adams-Strunk made the decision to fire Ken Whisenhunt midway through the season, fans had hope. Perhaps the front office finally felt their pain.
Choosing to hire Mularkey shows that they don’t. It’s also a loud message to the fans that the Adams family simply doesn’t care what they want.
That message is nothing new. Now it’s just that the Titans ownership has made it official.
Mularkey is a good guy. Players seemingly enjoyed playing for him when he took over for Whisenhunt. So he has those two things going for him.
But facts are facts. Mularkey went 2-7 in the interim role. He’s 6-29 in his last 35 games as an NFL head coach. He’s 18-39 in his career.
What about that screams leader of a successful new era for the Titans?
One of the big factors in picking Mularkey likely had to do with the fact that he was a cheaper option than another coach outside the organization would have been.
Titans owners being cheap? What a surprise.
The hire is already being spun in the most positive manner possible. Mularkey helped develop Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. He didn’t get total control over his assistant hires in previous jobs. He played in a role in Marcus Mariota’s rookie success (which, to be fair, he did) and will give the young quarterback familiarity. We’ve heard it all.
But the even more disturbing news is that this was Strunk’s plan all along. There’s no longer any doubt.
Remember that list of 155 potential candidates for the job? A complete joke. The Titans only interviewed two candidates outside of their own coaching staff.
Coaches like Tom Coughlin, Lovie Smith, Hue Jackson, Chip Kelly, Adam Gase and Josh McDaniels on the market? Strunk and company didn’t even pick up the phone to give any of them a call.
It was without a doubt the biggest fraud in coaching search history.
Don’t blame Mularkey for that. Blame those running the show.
We shouldn’t have expected any different from the current ownership. All they’ve done is turn this once great franchise into the worst in the NFL. Or maybe even in all of professional sports.
Strunk can’t be this oblivious to what the fans want. Not in the age of social media where opinions are on display every second of the day.
Yet she continues to ignore what the fans want. And they aren’t asking for much. All they want is a chance at winning again.
Mularkey’s track record doesn’t suggest that will happen.
Maybe he’ll prove everyone wrong. Maybe the third time is indeed the charm after failing in Buffalo and Jacksonville.
However, the Titans ownership isn’t proving anyone wrong.
It’s been evident all along that they aren’t connected to the fan base or reality. The reality is that the franchise is the laughingstock of the league.
Rather than move away from that, the Titans chose to surround themselves with more of the same.
The fans deserve better. The city of Nashville deserves better.
But neither will get it until the Adams family makes the only sensible move left in their bag of tricks: selling the team to someone that is actually invested in its long-term future.
Strunk isn’t an NFL owner. She didn’t even find it important enough to attend an NFL owners meeting in Houston, the city that she lives in. Wait, that’s right. She was too busy focusing on the most fraudulent coaching search in all of sports.
She might have been involved in the search. And she might have attended every Titans game this season. That doesn’t change the fact that she shouldn’t be the controlling owner of an NFL franchise.
The NFL is a business. To have a successful business, you have to give buyers a product worth paying for.
The Titans have won 5 games the past two seasons. They’ve only won two games at Nissan Stadium.
Fans aren’t going to continue paying for that product. Especially not after the seller completely ignored options that could have drastically improved it.
So Strunk shouldn’t be surprised when phones at the Titans ticket office are ringing off the hook when PSL renewals start in March.
The problem is that a lot of people won’t be calling to renew. They’ll be calling to cancel.
You would think that would send an emphatic message to the front office that fans are sick and tired of staying the course. But the front office already knew that. They chose not to listen.
In business, there’s also the saying that the customer is always right.
After this sham of a coaching search, it’s obvious the customer was right about one particular thing:
The current owners aren’t capable of making the Titans a contender.
And that’s the reality that those in charge will continue to ignore.