Keep your Chin up and start the search

January 01, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Anyone with a mop should report to Owings Mills this afternoon. 

The clean-up is underway. 

It seems timely, in a weird kind of way, that the Ravens chose yesterday to part company with Brian Billick.  Today dawns a new year and, with that, there will be great aspirations for success in 2008 at 1 Winning Drive.  The sloppy, fast-food restaurant’ish termination of Billick by Steve Bisciotti is really no longer the story.  At WNST.net, it’s been covered in great detail by Nestor, Casey, myself, etc.  Billick’s firing, by all accounts, resembled nothing more than a bad “B” movie that was put together at the last minute by producers who were seemingly on deadline to enter the film into some kind of rogue movie festival.  Given his background, I expected more from Steve Bisciotti when it came to decisions on personnel.  He should be ashamed.  And, yesterday at least, he appeared like he was, somewhat. 

Enough with the re-hash, let’s use one of 2007’s most famous catch-phrases and “move forward”, shall we?

Who’s the next man-up?  Who’s the next Head Coach?

There’s only one person the Ravens should be pursuing right now. 

And talk about irony.

For years, ardent Ravens supporters made fun of him, laughed at his team’s inept play in AFC Championship Games and, for the most part, pointed to our own educated, philosophical Head Coach and made light of the fact that our guy was smart and “their guy” seemed goofy.

My how the times change.

There’s only one candidate that gives the Ravens an upgrade over what they had in Billick and his name, of course, is Bill Cowher.

He’s not going to be cheap, particularly now when Cowher has to know that he’s the #1 off-season candidate as far as experienced, proven, winning coaches go. 

But here, in Baltimore, anything less than Bill Cowher is a gamble.  As much as Rex Ryan has done for the team’s defense, he’d be a gamble.  Jason Garrett?  A gamble.  Well, unless he can bring Romo, Owens and Whitten with him.  If so, hire him tomorrow.  Kirk Ferentz?  Another gamble.  A nice, cushy college job with some success doesn’t always translate to winning in the NFL.  Ask Lou Holtz.  Or Nick Saban.  Or Butch Davis.  Or Steve Spurrier.

Bill Cowher would justify Biscotti’s decision to be influenced by Dick Cass and jettison Billick.  If nothing else, it would take the heat off of the shocking turn of events that Bisciotti engineered when he – by his own admission – woke up on Sunday morning and decided to change his mind and send Brian packing.  A Cowher arrival and the money he would command ($30 million/5 years sound about right?) most certainly puts Bisciotti’s heart in the right place, doesn’t it?  After all, money talks and bulls**t walks and if the Ravens were paying out $45 million in coaching salaries – including $15 million to a guy snickering to himself on his Eastern Shore farm – you’d have to think the man would be willing to do ANYTHING to win, even if it costs him $30 million to replace the $15 million in blood money he’s paying out.

What the Ravens need now – and they actually needed this BEFORE Brian was terminated so nothing has changed in this area – is to run a tighter ship.  Players need to get back to being players instead of radio stars and clubhouse lawyers.  Road trips need to be less about sneaking a drink on team flights and flirting with the flight attendants and more about going on a business trip to kick some ass in (insert visiting city here).  And the overall atmosphere of the locker room needs to be more about WE and much, much less about ME. 

And the person who helps make that happen is the coach.  It would have been a tall task for Billick to do that in ’08, which is one reason why it might have been the right move to fire him yesterday.  Players would have resisted any attempt by Billick to tighten up because, as they’ve said many times, the players enjoy the freedom of a coach who actually believes they can conduct themselves responsibly.  Occasionally some of the players even held up their end of that bargain and carried themselves the right way.  Often times, they didn’t.  That’s what you get, though, when you give liberties to people who don’t understand the value of courtesy and professionalism.

Understand this:  The current crop of players probably won’t like Bill Cowher.  In fact, there’s a reasonably good chance they won’t like any new coach.  Because, with a new coach, comes new assistants, new methods, new rules and new players.  What’s that saying?  You can’t teach an “old dawg” new tricks? 

Steve Bisciotti spoke on Monday about “taking a chance” and firing Brian Billick. 

Seems like he could have gone up to Caves Valley and played 18 holes and gotten into a nice game of poker afterwards that would have satisfied his need to gamble, but maybe, like most guys with more money than they know what to do with, playing for $500 a side or an $8,000 hand in cards isn’t nearly as blood-pumping as firing the team’s head coach after you’ve already told him he’s not getting fired.  Maybe, like Austin Powers, Steve Bisciotti’s middle name is “Danger” and he likes to live dangerously.

If Bisciotti wants to continue to gamble, he can bring in Kirk Ferentz or Jason Garrett.  They might turn out to be a winner in the NFL or they could be a bust.  It would be a gamble to go with them or, even, Rex Ryan.

If Bisciotti wants to help tidy up the mess he created yesterday, Bill Cowher is the ONLY reasonable solution.  He is, without question, the best man available and hasn’t that always been the Ravens’ draft philosophy?  Best man available?

Bill Cowher is the best man available.

Let’s hope Dick Cass believes that too.

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