Two of Cleveland’s pro sports teams are at crossroads. Less than a day after the Cavs fired head coach Ty Lue, the Browns fired their coach, Hue Jackson. Now, both struggling teams will continue their seasons with interim leadership.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says it was quite a sudden shakeup in the sports scene. "Two head coaches. Two assistants. Two teams with two interim coaches. I’ve never had a back-to-back firing of coaches basically in 24 hours."
Lue firing long overdue
Pluto wrote in a Cleveland.com column that he would have fired Cavs coach Ty Lue over the summer. "People say, 'He won a title and he's coached in three consecutive NBA Finals. LeBron's not there, so of course you're going to lose some games. What's the problem?'"
"But, he also missed 10 games last year because of physical problems including anxiety, sleep deprivation and spitting up blood. Even after he came back after his leave of absence, he didn’t look good. His physical issues, along with having to make the mental adjustment to coaching what’s going to amount to a bad or at-best mediocre team, I didn’t think he was the right guy."
Pluto said Lue told the front office over the summer that he was up to the challege. “They’re saying his health is fine, but I thought he lacked energy,” Pluto said.
A stable replacement
Pluto says the team has a natural replacement in assistant head coach Larry Drew.
“When you take over after LeBron, you’ve got to be able to take a punch. I think his career almost goes back 40 years. He’s been a head coach and a player. Hopefully they’re trying to work out some contract deals and keep him for the next couple years."
Pluto says the Cavs need to work the younger players into starting roles and let go of some of the older players, like J.R. Smith.
Learning the depth of the Browns' inner turmoil
While Pluto said the firing of Browns coach Hue Jackson had been speculated, he wrote a Cleveland.com column this past Sunday that now wasn't the time.
“I look back at that I thought for one, the Browns did not have a natural replacement that you could keep on long-term. But I didn’t realize after the Steelers game and after I had written that, the inner turmoil that was going on between Jackson and his offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, and some of the coaching staff was splintering.”
And Pluto says rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield was in the middle of the chaos.
Now, the very oustpoken and fiery defensive coordinator Gregg Williams takes over as interim coach.
"Even for Cleveland, this is really weird," Pluto said. "Browns fans are so sick of Hue Jackson, they could have put in Bozo the Clown or anybody else and fans were all for it. If nothing else, it gives general manager John Dorsey the chance to hire his own coach."
And, Pluto reflected on the Browns organization from the very top -- owner Jimmy Haslam.
"Haslam has fired four coaches and three general managers since he bought the team in 2012. It’s almost a right-of-passage in owner Jimmy Haslam’s tenure – Who’s Jimmy firing this year?”
“You fire coaches and you go to interim coaches, you’re probably not going to win right away. So if you’re a Cleveland fan, you’re probably used to this, and you’re going to lose on both fronts."