Things between Mike Pettine and the Cleveland Browns reached a critical mass on Tuesday evening - so much so that it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he'd be named the next head coach there immediately. It still seems that way, despite the fact that the Browns have left the Senior Bowl, having conducted a second interview with Pettine, without a deal in place.
Reports surfaced early Tuesday afternoon that Pettine's second interview would take place in Mobile, Alabama yesterday; that meeting kicked off at 4PM and lasted for roughly four hours, per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. It was she that reported, as the meeting was happening, that the Browns were "prepared to hire Pettine on the spot if things went well." There's no deal in place yet, so take that for whatever meaning you like.
As the evening progressed and hype built, Pettine's hiring in Cleveland seemed imminent. (We even had the story written and ready to post; still do, in fact.) Prominent media members were providing their takes on Pettine - all of them positive - as the meeting took place, giving the Pettine-to-Cleveland story a foregone conclusion vibe.
I know it's vogue to bash the Browns, but I happen to like Mike Pettine quite a bit. He's a real good coach.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 22, 2014
I worked with Mike Pettine for 4 years in Baltimore. He's very bright and creative. The players LOVED him!— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 22, 2014
Then came the tweet from venerable reporter Mark Gaughan at The Buffalo News, which kicked the evening's events into overdrive for a time.
I'm hearing Mike Pettine is going to get Browns job. A deal is close.— Mark Gaughan (@gggaughan) January 22, 2014
Within an hour, however, the Plain-Dealer report surfaced that Pettine's interview had ended without a deal, Gaughan had changed his tune ever so slightly, and Browns brass had scheduled an interview for Wednesday - likely with Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, though that has not been confirmed - but by no means does that mean the Buffalo Bills are clear of Pettine's potential departure. Tim Graham, again of The Buffalo News, concluded the evening with an ominous tweet.
Bills sources say team believes Pettine will get the Browns job based on feedback they've received.— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) January 22, 2014
We'll spend our Wednesday ready to click post on that Pettine-to-Cleveland draft at a moment's notice - and Bills fans will likely need to brace themselves for the team naming a new defensive coordinator for the fourth straight season. Things are not set in stone, but even after last night's near-miss, Pettine to Cleveland still hovers in foregone conclusion territory.