JOE BIDDLE: Titans, Munchak part ways

JOE BIDDLE: Titans, Munchak part ways (Image 1)

Titans CEO Tommy Smith dropped the first bomb in his short time as The Man. He hit his target.

During a lengthy meeting Friday with Coach Mike Munchak and GM Ruston Webster, there was no public decision made on Munchak's future.

Less than 24 hours later, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Munchak had been fired.

It was semantics. We hear Smith would have allowed Munchak to return next season, but there were demands that the third-year coach would have to meet. They were changes Smith deemed important for the future of the franchise.

Those changes involved Munchak's staff and he decided he would not accept Smith's demands. Saddled with a three-year record of 22-26, Munchak did not have sufficient leverage.

So it became a strange parting of the ways, in some ways similar to the way former Titans coach Jeff Fisher forced the late Bud Adams to fire him.

“This last week has been a difficult time trying to navigate through many issues to find the best resolution for this franchise moving forward,'' Webster said in a prepared statement.

“Tough choices were presented to all sides and the end result was to part ways and move forward without Mike.''

Munchak didn't have enough ammunition as he presented his case to Smith and Webster. Coming close didn't count. But not surprisingly, the Hall of Fame player would not agree to make staff changes.

If he had, word would get around that Munchak sacrificed his beliefs to save his job. Give Munchak credit. He knew if he returned with stipulations, it would trickle down to his players, his assistants and to the fan base.

Smith made the move he thought he needed to make. After 12 years as a player and 17 more as a coach, Mike Munchak made the move he had to make.

I respect Munchak for holding his ground. This was a franchise he was heavily invested in. He refused to fire assistants he hired and believed in. Some assistants Smith/Webster wanted fired were likely personal friends of Munchak's. He leaves with a clear conscience.

It's speculation, but I believe the late Bud Adams would have made the same decision Smith did. Adams made it pretty clear before this season he expected this team to make the playoffs.

The next question now becomes who will the Titans next coach be, and who will make that call, since Smith is new to the NFL. I would think he would heavily rely on Webster's recommendations.

Webster's most recent ties are with Seattle. Before that he was with Tampa Bay. NFL general managers usually rely on past working relationships in searching for a coach.

They need an experienced head coach who is a ball of fire with passion to match. It's a tall order.

By waiting almost a week to fire Munchak, it allowed six other NFL teams to get a head start on finding their replacements. That could prove to be a huge disadvantage for the Titans.

I think they need to make a clean break from those on the football side who have been involved with the team before they moved to Tennessee. It's been too much of a good old boy's operation and it's time to cut ties with those who think going 8-8 is acceptable.

Mike Munchak had his chance to break the cycle. Now it will be someone else's turn.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at

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