Mariucci watch: 'Business as usual' at Lions HQ
Friday came and went and Steve Mariucci remained the Detroit Lions' coach, despite a report that his firing was being discussed by team officials.
Despite his seemingly shaky footing as the team's head coach, Mariucci told reporters he doesn't need a vote of confidence.
"I don't know that I feel I need that," he was quoted as saying in the Detroit Free Press. "When we meet, when we practice, when we plan, when we prepare, what we do is go like crazy and get them ready for the next game. I can't use all my thought on who's going to say what next, and I have to proceed that way. I'm not going to ask [team president] Matt [Millen], 'Are you going to say something to the team?' That's not my place."
According to the newspaper, Mariucci said he didn't hear that his future with the Lions was being talked about until he did a radio interview on Friday morning.
One source close to the Lions situation told ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli that the mood in the team offices on Friday morning was "absolutely business as usual," and another source insisted Mariucci's dismissal was "not imminent."
Mariucci and Millen met, but not in an official situation, merely a regular day-after-game meeting.
"We talked about the game like we always talk about the game," Mariucci was quoted as saying in the Free Press. "That's what we did. I don't know what you guys were hoping for."
Mariucci was asked if he wanted to remain the Lions' coach.
"How do you want me to answer that? Of course, I hope to be, I anticipate being, I want to be, I plan on it, all those sort of things," Mariucci was quoted as saying in the Free Press. "I'm spending my day evaluating the game, looking at our players, trying to decide what we do going from here to make it better. That consumes my every thought."
If Mariucci were to be fired, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, who posted a 45-46 record as head coach of the Chicago Bears from 1999-2003 would be the most likely candidate to take over as an interim head coach. There is some question as to whether Jauron, who is very close to Mariucci, would even consider the interim position.
WJBK-TV in Detroit reported late Thursday that the Lions were in discussions that could lead to the firing of Mariucci as early as Friday. After two and a half disappointing years with Mariucci at the helm, the 27-7 loss to the Falcons on Thanksgiving may have been the final straw.
The Lions are 15-28 since 2003 under Mariucci, including a 4-7 record this year, a season that began with high hopes in the organization. Thursday's loss dropped Detroit 3½ games behind NFC North-leading Chicago, and 1½ behind second-place Minnesota.
Mariucci has two more seasons remaining on the five-year, $25 million contract that he signed in 2003, and is due $5.5 million for 2006 and $6 million for 2007.
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