I'm not big on writing irrelevant posts in this space, but this story is so intriguing that I feel the need to backtrack briefly before continuing the Chan Gailey era in full. I don't think I need to tell you that this story is highly irrelevant because Gailey is the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills; pretty sure y'all are aware of that.
Yesterday, when Gailey was introduced by GM Buddy Nix, the Bills' new GM had this to say about the perceived unpopularity of Buffalo's coaching job: "We probably got, and I'm trying not to exaggerate, 15 calls a day, begging for an interview and wanting this job. I could have hired 35 or 40 the first week. And you would be shocked at some of the names."
Tim Graham, who works at ESPN, is the ringleader of this story, and has provided five such "shocking" names over the past few days. According to Graham, Marty Schottenheimer, Brian Billick, Jim Fassel, Mike Martz and Marc Trestman displayed different levels of interest in the job that eventually went to Gailey. We may even hear of more interested parties at some point.
I have a large level of respect for Tim Graham. I've seen Bills fans (not necessarily here) blasting Graham left and right for these reports, and the idea that he's leading some smear campaign of the Bills organization is not only ludicrous, it's patently false. Graham's a reporter; this is newsworthy, so he's obligated to report the news. If he's reporting that these five guys wanted Buffalo's job - and for the record, he told WGR 550 that he "thinks" Trestman wanted the job - then they wanted the job. Y'all have zero reason to be skeptical of these reports.
Billick, the former head coach at Baltimore, is the only man that has spoken publicly about the Bills job, which he did with WGRZ:
I just wanted to make sure I was clear that he (Nix) had not called," Billick said. "Why he had not called a coach with a Super Bowl ring, 10 wins a year for nine years, having orchestrated the highest-scoring offense and defense in the history of the league, is a question worth asking. But I never spoke with Mr. Nix."
Well, that's blunt, Mr. Billick. With respect, perhaps you ought to read that comment and ask that question of yourself. Billick did, however, have some good things to say about Gailey.
What really matters here is that Buffalo was not interested in these men. Graham reported that Ralph Wilson wasn't interested in Schottenheimer; no such detail exists for the other four names, but we can assume that Nix was not overly interested in some of these guys, as well. (In Billick's case, it's not hard to guess why.)
Of course, it matters to fans, who are largely up in arms over the hire of Gailey. At present, 24% of Buffalo Rumblings voters expressed approval of the hire. If you feel so inclined, set an over/under in the comments section as to the proportion of that group that is visiting Jets, Patriots and Dolphins fans.
I'm fully aware of the implications of this type of report. I completely understand why folks would be upset or disappointed that the Bills would not even interview any of those qualified candidates, let alone extend them a job offer. (And for the record, who's to say they didn't talk to some of those guys? Clearly, they didn't pursue Schottenheimer or Billick, but we can't make the same claim yet about Fassel.)
Here's my take on this whole situation, from Gailey straight on down to Graham's reports: they're interesting to talk about, particularly if your feathers are still ruffled from the events of Monday and Tuesday, but I, personally, could not care less who did or didn't want the job. With the possible exception of Schottenheimer, there's not a name on that list that wouldn't have ruffled feathers. Maybe not as many feathers as Gailey, but feather ruffling would have existed in a big way. (You might have even gotten a little from me if it'd been Billick.)
I don't view the lack of interest in these men as an indictment on the search process or on Wilson or Nix, because folks, it's always been this way. I am not disappointed that any of the names Graham brings up are not the current head coach of the Buffalo Bills, because fundamentally, nothing would have changed. We'd still be facing the same question marks today with Schottenheimer at the helm as we are with Gailey.
I'm a forward-thinking guy. Over the next few days - and in particular when Gailey's coaching staff starts piecing itself together - we're going to start taking a close look at the roster. Those are conversations that interest me, because they are relevant to the team's 2010 outlook. Who may have coached the team? That has nothing to do with what's to come with this franchise.
So one last time, here's a spot to gripe about anything and everything to do with the coaching search and "what might have been." Tomorrow, we start moving forward.