Chapter 1: Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss

January 12, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio

the professional game.

What Bisciotti learned was that the success rate over the past decade had been identical for all three. There was no foolproof methodology for finding a successful NFL head coach.

And instead of a more traditional three-man search committee (along with Dick Cass and Ozzie Newsome), Bisciotti instead insisted on an eight-man committee of senior management and football personnel advisors to be a part of his search for the next head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

After the initial shock of Billick’s firing dissipated, Biscotti named his search team. Along with him at the head of the table, Newsome, President Dick Cass, Senior VP of Public Relations and longtime Art Modell confidant Kevin Byrne, VP of Football Administration Pat Moriarty, Assistant GM Eric DeCosta, Director of Pro Personnel Vince Newsome and Senior Personnel Assistant George Kokinis were all charged with finding the best candidates for the job and would be heavily involved in the intelligence gathering and interviewing process over the next two weeks. Many of these men were also annually involved in the selection of NFL players via the draft each April so they were now scouting seasoned coaches instead of green college kids.

Despite the availability of a bevy of Super Bowl-winning coaches, Bisciotti was adamant about finding someone off the radar, someone new. He reiterated many times that he was looking to find the “next Hall of Fame head coach” for the Ravens.

There were more than 40 names on the first long list and by the time the search team had met for two days, it was narrowed down to six men to be interviewed on the short list:

Bryan Schottenheimer – An interesting pick because his father Marty Schottenheimer was also in the market after being fired by the San Diego Chargers after a third run of great success in winning regular season games. The younger Schottenheimer, just 34 years old, was the offensive coordinator of the New York Jets.

Tony Sparano – The 2007 offensive mind of the Dallas Cowboys under Bill Parcells, who wound up taking the Miami Dolphins job that Cam Cameron was fired from in the same timeframe.

Jim Caldwell – The quiet quarterbacks coach of the Indianapolis Colts and confidant of Peyton Manning, who was just a year removed from winning the Super Bowl.

John Harbaugh – The long-time special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, who moved to coach defensive backs in 2007 to improve his chances of getting a college head coaching job. Harbaugh had just finished as a runner-up to Rick Neuheisel for the UCLA opening on December 29, 2007.

Rex Ryan – The incumbent Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator and “in house” candidate who had a year remaining on his contract. Ryan was the players’ choice to be the head coach and several players publicly endorsed him for the job. He had been with the franchise for nine years including the defensive line coach for the 2001 Super Bowl XXXV champs.

Jason Garrett – The offensive coordinator for the Cowboys and longtime backup quarterback for Troy Aikman’s teams of the mid 1990’s, Garrett was a favorite of Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who saw him as a perfect mentor for franchise quarterback Tony Romo.

By any measurement, the initial round of interviews and subsequent intelligence gathering were exhausting for the committee. There was an air of excitement and anticipation at the thought of finding the next head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, but there were also other coaching dramas playing out as other teams, including Miami and Atlanta, were also hoping to find the next Bill Walsh in January 2008 and the process includes a wide array of possibilities and opportunities for many coordinators and position coaches around the NFL. It’s literally a feeding frenzy for coaches and a chance to get a promotion or for those on the street, a chance to get back into the game. It’s made even harder for candidates whose teams are still in the playoffs in January and they’re trying to focus on winning a Super Bowl while their email and texts light up from other coaches around the league trying to get a promotion or a new job.

After the original round of intensive all-day interviews, the committee was smitten with two candidates – Harbaugh and Garrett – but it was clear that Bisciotti was going to make Garrett his first choice and with good reason.

Bisciotti liked that he was a hot name and had the implied blessing of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who he considered his best friend in the NFL ownership circle. Cass also shared a strong bond with Jones and Garrett, who came from some the best stock in