By Mark Gaughan
The San Diego Chargers had a strong interest in Doug Marrone and might have tried to sign him if their coaching search was in position to act, league sources told The Buffalo News over the weekend.
A report in the San Diego Times-Union today dovetails with this information.
The Chargers are searching for a general manager and a head coach. The team has stated it intends to hire a GM first. Retired GM Ron Wolf, the highly respected former personnel chief for the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers, is San Diego’s consultant in both searches.
The Chargers had a Saturday night dinner with Marrone, the Union-Tribune reported today.
"The Chargers were extremely impressed with Marrone, who had been head coach at Syracuse University, but he appeared to have already made up his mind by the time he met with the Chargers," the paper reported. "A team source emphasized Saturday night’s meeting was not an interview but a chance to get to know Marrone and express interest in interviewing him next week."
The fact the Bills negotiated through the night and closed the deal on Marrone early Sunday shows they didn't want to let him get away.
The NFL coaching fraternity is a small world in which there are barely two degrees of separation for anybody. Former NFL executive and current NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi formerly worked with the Philadelphia Eagles under current Cleveland Browns chief Joe Banner. The two are close. The Browns aim to hire a coach before a GM. Lombardi has ties to Bill Belichick, with whom he worked in Cleveland. Through Belichick, Lombardi knows Penn State coach Bill O'Brien. O'Brien is great friends with Marrone. The two coached together at Georgia Tech.
The bottom line is the Browns had interviewed Marrone and all indications are they were very interested. Obviously, this doesn't mean Marrone is sure to succeed. Once upon a time Charlie Weis was a hot coaching candidate. But the Bills had reason to move decisively once they agreed Marrone was their man.