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Two weeks into Browns' coach search, names are obscure and ever-changing
Terry Pluto says the Cleveland Browns' latest top target for coach is an unfamiliar name and another gamble

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
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The Browns are now two weeks into their search for a new coach and the names swirling as potential frontrunners are obscure and ever-changing. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says, like many people, he thought the front office had a plan going into this process. 

LISTEN: Terry Pluto on Browns lingering search

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LISTEN: Pluto on new Penn State football coach James Franklin's $4.5 million/year contract makes him the second-highest paid college football coach behind Ohio State's Urban Meyer.

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When the Browns fired head coach Rob Chudzinski, Terry Pluto was among the many who thought the team had another option lined up. After all, “Tampa Bay fired their coach. Within four days, they had hired Lovie Smith. Lovie Smith had taken the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl a number of years ago. He’s considered a solid guy, a good leader. I assumed there was somebody they had in mind for the Browns like this.” Instead the Browns foundering search proves one thing: “It’s proving they just didn’t want Chudzinski.”

A frontrunner
The Browns search for his replacement has focused on Denver’s first-year offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Denver is still in the playoffs and Gase turned down an opportunity to interview with Cleveland, Detroit and other teams until the Broncos are done. That, notes Pluto, has left the Browns waiting on a candidate who “has never been a head coach anywhere.” Pluto acknowledges that many NFL teams don’t value head coaching experience as much as he does.

A tough sell
When the Browns do interview Gase, Pluto says they could be in the odd position of having to sell the team to Gase more than Gase will have to sell himself to the Browns. The team will likely push the vision of what a coach could do with 10 picks in this year’s draft paired with receiver Josh Gordon.

Putting faith in Banner
And Pluto says Browns CEO Joe Banner may have a reason to think it is worth it. Banner was CEO of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 when the team was looking for coach. He found Andy Reid in Green Bay, who went on to become the long-time successful Eagles coach before going on to revive Kansas City this year. But “in 1999, he was not even an offensive coordinator in Green Bay. He was the quarterback’s coach.” Plutto adds, “Banner … once said to me, ‘Everybody said, ‘Who’s Andy Reid? And Banner’s crazy for turning this team over to this young guy.’ So in his background, he thinks ‘I did it once.’ Maybe Adam Gase is his Andy Reid.”

A lot to prove
If Gase does become the Browns next head coach, Pluto says he’ll have “to do some real selling when he comes in here, to the fans and to the players. “It’s one thing when you’re Lovie Smith, who all the guys know around the league and they know that he’s won in Chicago. “Adam Gase, a young guy from Denver, walks into that locker room he’s got to prove to the players he knows something, that he’s not just another faceless assistant hired by the Browns.”

Related WKSU Stories

Latest Browns firing pushes tab to $50 million paid to ex coaches and execs
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Browns fire Chudzinski after one season
Monday, December 30, 2013

Browns say Chudzinski as head coach was a mistake
Monday, December 30, 2013

Five Browns make All-Pro, most since 1953
Friday, January 3, 2014

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