For more than half a century, the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Oilers/Titans have operated under the watchful eye of founder and owner Bud Adams.
After the 90-year-old Adams died at his home last Monday morning, it marked the end of an era marked by the franchise's failure to claim a Super Bowl victory.
The starting point of what will happen from an operational standpoint in the near future was spelled out Tuesday.
There were no surprises. Bud and his late wife left two daughters. Thus, they became the heirs to not only the NFL franchise, but to all of Bud Adams' varied and successful businesses he had accumulated through the years.
Make no mistake. The Titans were Bud's pride. There are only 32 NFL franchises and Bud Adams owned one of those.
For the immediate future, son-in-law Tommy Smith will be President and CEO of the Titans. Daughters Susie Adams Smith and Amy Adams Hunt will assumed the roles as Co-Chairpersons of the board and will be joined by Bud Adams' grandson, Kenneth Adams IV. He will join the Titans board as a Director.
It's difficult to predict the future. Will the family stay the course for any length of time, or will one or more of the heirs decide to sell their share, or shares, of a franchise that is worth approximately $1 billion.
The family has always stayed in the background and Adams called all the shots from a business standpoint. He would often get involved in personnel decisions on the football side.
Sometimes they backfired on him. It was Bud's decision to draft former Texas star Vince Young with the Titans first pick in the 2006 NFL draft. General Manager Floyd Reese and Coach Jeff Fisher acquiesced to the owner's wishes, even though privately, they did not agree with the selection.
It later became clear that Young lacked the maturity and ability to grow into an elite starting quarterback at the NFL level.
I don't envision that Smith and the daughters will relish getting involved in football decisions. They have shown little interest in the past in doing so.
Tommy Smith was here for a short time when Adams moved the franchise from Houston to Tennessee. He decided Nashville wasn't for him and moved back to Houston where he distanced his association with the Titans front office.
I can see one or two scenarios taking place in the future. One would be for the family to keep the franchise, but search for an accomplished NFL executive to oversee the overall operation from Nashville and allow that person to make decisions such as hiring and firing the General Manager and Head Coach, positions currently held by Ruston Webster and Mike Munchak, respectively.
Another scenario would be for the heirs to sell the franchise and enjoy the financial fruits left to them by Adams. If that should occur, look for Kenneth Adams IV to continue to work his way up the Titans' organizational chart. He is still in his late 20s and has been involved with the team, starting at the bottom after graduating from University of the South in Sewanee.
I don't see much movement from the front office the rest of this season. Munchak has one year left on his contract and his future depends on how this season plays out. Unless the bottom falls out, I think the team will show the improvement under Munchak that Bud Adams was depending on him to produce.
In some ways this has been a dysfunctional franchise, one that played in only one Super Bowl and came up short against St. Louis. You can still make a lot of money with teams that rarely make Super Bowls, but it was Bud Adams' fervent desire to see the Titans make the playoffs this year and hopefully advance to the NFL's largest stage.
It's unlikely with nine games remaining and a 3-4 record going to St. Louis Sunday, that they will catch lightning in a bottle.
If the family is smart, it will give the team and coaches their full support and refrain from meddling in the operational side of the franchise.
We don't have enough of a book on any of them to know for sure which direction they will take and I seriously doubt if any of them have had time to even think past tomorrow what they will do.
Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Oct. 29, 2013: Tommy Smith named CEO of Titans after Bud Adams death
- Oct. 28, 2013: Titans owner Bud Adams memorialized in Houston
- Oct. 24, 2013: Funeral for Titans owner Bud Adams set for Monday
- Oct. 21, 2013: Gov. Bredesen on Bud Adams: His word as good as a bond
- Oct. 21, 2013: Titans owner Bud Adams dead at 90