posted on January 05, 2012 10:25
Rams’ Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff joined The ITD Morning After to give us his take on the direction the organization is taking with the coaching search…and in general. Not just with the moves that they’ll make at coach and GM over the next couple of weeks…but with the stability of the franchise in St. Louis. You can listen to the interview by clicking HERE, or you can just enjoy the transcript as provided by Kevin “The Non-Gay” Lorenz.
What is the status of the search?
“We are in the process of getting ready to start sending out permission forms for both positions for GM and Head Coach of people that we may be interested in talking to. We’ve spent, really Monday was focused on making sure that everything was handled properly in the building. When you say goodbye to two good people, it’s never easy, and it’s never easy for a staff that really liked working with them and got to know them.”
Why did you use the term “bittersweet” in describing the firings of Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney?
“I think that’s how most of us felt. It was hard to see Steve and Billy go. They were integral parts of building this franchise from what they inherited in 2009 to where we are now is night and day and they did a fantastic job of making us relevant in the NFL again at least organizationally, modernizing a lot of how we operate and what we did and I enjoyed working side by side with them for three years.”
What about the current stadium situation and is there anything you can say to calm St. Louis fans’ fears regarding the Rams potentially moving?
“Our entire focus is building a winner here and for St. Louis and I know there is a lot of speculation that how we handled this decision might show an indication of our passion for St. Louis which I really never understood the connection. Monday was about our passion for winning and providing our fans with a great product. Obviously we have some deadlines coming up this year that are going to speak to our commitment to St. Louis. We’re excited to sit down with the city and hear what they have to say and obviously they have a deadline coming up that I think everybody is aware of and we want to begin the process. But part of this is we talk about building a great organization on and off the field. And what we mean by off the field is always improving the fan experience. Making the Edward Jones Dome a great place for our fans to come and not just for the ten days we play in this dome. And we want the Edward Jones Dome to be a great destination for everyone in this region for the other 355 days a year. To have concerts, Final Fours, Frozen Fours, political conventions, soccer games, Mizzou Illinois, bowl games…That’s our vision for the building. If we can work with the city we can make that happen and if we can make that happen for the citizens of St. Louis I know it will be good enough for us.”
“I certainly understand that people want to hear Stan say something affirmative. But I also went through the past two months when people said they wanted to hear anything from Stan on the coaching situation and his silence said he wasn’t paying attention and nothing could be further from the truth. When we have something and we have something positive we’ll be ready to announce it. But a lot of this goes on behind the scenes and that’s not something you discuss publicly.”
What can you tell us about the status of things with Jeff Fisher?
“We spoke with Jeff on Monday night, and obviously he has a lot of criteria that he’s working through but I think in the NFL now you have to have a franchise quarterback to be competitive year in year out and I think Jeff went through some years in Tennessee where he had some up and down quarterback play and that led to some 500 years for them and I think he looks at this and says ‘If I’m going to be an in demand coach I want to have a couple things.’ And I know things that are important to him are obviously ownership, a quarterback, how you build a roster, what’s your working relationship going to be like with the General Manager. I think people have speculated that we’re one of the most attractive jobs and I think that’s a credit to Steve and Billy for what they’ve built and are passing off in terms of a lot of salary cap flexibility some good young pieces in James Laurinitis and Chris Long, Sam Bradford and Robert Quinn, I think that’s all attractive but at the end of the day we’re going to have to sit down with Jeff and see if we’re a fit, if we’re compatible, if we’re what he wants and he’s what we want. Sam Bradford makes us a very attractive job to a lot of people and we knew that going in and I can tell you from my phone calls over the past 48 hours that it’s certainly true.”
Tim: If I’m not mistaken you said you spoke with Fisher on Monday night?
“I did speak with Jeff on Monday night.”
What you like about Fisher?
“If you look at his record, I read everything, I follow everything, and Jeff had some really good years in Tennessee but what he really managed to avoid was bad years. Even when they had injuries his teams were always competitive they always played feisty, they always had an edge. He was always a good game manager. He was respected in league circles. I think he brings a gravitas and a presence to any club that he’s going to join. I think that that’s something that intrigues us.”
Other names you’ve talked to:
“We haven’t set up any other interviews. We’re in the process of submitting consent forms to other coaches. Obviously we can’t talk to any coaches until we send the consent forms. We’ve gone through a pretty methodical process to make sure we have the right list and that we were targeting, starting with the right guys, but the only person we’ve had a conversation with to date is Jeff Fisher.”
On importance of head coaching experience…or would you be willing to hire another coordinator or college coach?
“I would absolutely hire another coordinator or college coach. I think there’s something to be said for having been on an NFL sideline, but you can’t hire a current sitting coach in the NFL. That means if you’re hiring someone with previous NFL experience they’re out of a job for one reason or another. Something has happened in their career that’s causing them to take a pause. So there’s also a risk when you do that. You have to get to the reasons of why they’re not in their former job and why they should be rehired.”
What about any of the other well-known coaches we see on television these days? Any interest in them?
“Absolutely. I was fortunate enough to work with Jon Gruden, he’s an excellent football coach. I think any time you put out a list, you’d be silly not to have Gruden on it. But the thing with those guys is, they’ve started different careers. And they’ve got to balance whether they like those careers better or the rigors of coaching, and whether they want to wake up in the middle of the night and worry about how they’re going to score in the red zone versus just needing to know a fact for Sunday morning’s pregame show.”
On Bradford regressing:
“I don’t think there’s anything to that. We judge our evaluations of Sam Bradford on the people that coach him every day Josh McDaniels Pat Shurmer and believe me those guys still think the world of Sam Bradford. Everybody believes that Sam Bradford is a franchise asset. It wasn’t a very fair year for Sam or for our team. We had five different left tackles play. Steven Jackson and Sam Bradford were on the field healthy for one game the entire year and that was Green Bay; we had 425 yards that game. When you look at our offense and what it was designed to be it never really came to fruition and that was for a lot of different factors. I think regressed is a strong word.”
What do you think about hiring someone to serve as an ambassador for the Rams to the City of St. Louis and Rams’ fans…similar to what John Davidson did with the Blues when the team was struggling but still trying to show its commitment to the City? Is that something you could see doing if the head coach and/or GM is so consumed in rebuilding the on-field product that he wouldn’t be able to be out there much?
“I think that’s a little bit short-sighted to be honest. In 2010 we were named the philanthropic organization of year in St. Louis, the first time a sports team has ever won that award. We had the highest season ticket renewal rate in a decade and the most new season tickets sold ever. I think the job is all 125 people in the organization have to be ambassadors to St. Louis. The NFL is a little bit of a different animal. Your head coach has to be the face of the franchise. That’s just the way it is. They do a press conference every day. Can we get some people to be more engaged? Sure. But that’s why we started an alumni program three years ago where we bring back and alumni for each game. There are a lot of ways to touch fans and connect with them that go beyond a face.”
What do you think of what Demoff had to say? Log-in and post your comments, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.