Lions had two finalists for head coaching job

Duane Burleson

The Detroit Lions' coaching search came down to two finalists.

It turns out that the Detroit Lions' coaching search came down to two finalists. One of them was obviously Jim Caldwell, who ended up getting the job on Tuesday. The other finalist, much to no one's surprise, was Ken Whisenhunt, who took the Tennessee Titans' head coaching job on Monday night. Lions president Tom Lewand said this about the search on Wednesday (via the Lions):

Two men fit that profile and were real finalists for us. One of those, Ken Whisenhunt, is somebody that we wanted to have additional conversations with and had offered to bring him to Detroit to have additional conversations and a chance to meet the Ford family. He had a great opportunity in Tennessee and they got a fine man and fine football coach.

The Lions had a plane ready to go to San Diego to pick up Whisenhunt on Monday, but it never actually left Detroit. It turns out that the Lions were worried about the Titans during their pursuit of Whisenhunt, and their concerns were realized when he decided to go to Tennessee instead.

Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. also discussed Whisenhunt on Wednesday. Ford Jr. said that Whisenhunt was one of five coaches he spoke to during the search (the other four were the coaches who interviewed -- Caldwell, Mike Munchak and Gary Kubiak -- plus Tony Dungy), and he made it known that no formal contract offer was ever extended to Whisenhunt. Also, Ford Jr. described Whisenhunt and Caldwell as the Lions' "two Plan A" candidates; they just weren't able to complete the process with Whisenhunt. (Insert Calvin Johnson joke here.)

Basically, the Lions planned on bringing Whisenhunt to Detroit on Monday in order to complete a second interview. My personal belief is that a second interview with Whisenhunt would have merely been the final step before he got the job, and even though no formal contract offer was made, I'm sure numbers were exchanged between the Lions and Whisenhunt's agent at some point. However, when Whisenhunt decided to take the Titans' job (in part because they offered him such a coach-friendly contract), the Lions had to change their plans and they quickly turned their focus to Caldwell, their other so-called "Plan A."

The Lions, by the way, did not speak to any coaches from the college ranks during their search, according to general manager Martin Mayhew.

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