When the Detroit Lions hired Dan Campbell to be the team’s next head coach, he opened up his introductory press conference with a joke about him telling his agent, Rick Smith, to tell employers to think he was Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell.
Turns out the old adage of there being a grain of truth in every joke holds true.
According to Dennis Dodd, national college football writer for CBS Sports, Matt Campbell turned down an eight-year, $68.5 million contract to become the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.
“In the offseason, he turned an eight-year, $68.5 million offer from the Lions, apparently with full control,” commented Dodd on Wednesday. The comment about Matt Campbell being offered “full control” is something Dodd mentioned he was still working on confirming at the time of his report.
The Lions' interest in Matt Campbell was documented earlier this offseason when ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano published some notes about the coaching searches for NFL teams back on January 16 of this year. The two noted that Detroit had an interest in Matt Campbell, saying that a week prior, many had him “pegged for the Detroit job.”
“The Lions were in conversations with Iowa State coach Matt Campbell before he decided to stay where he is,” said the ESPN report. “I don’t know if this was specifically an issue for Matt Campbell, but I have been told that the uncertainty of the Matthew Stafford situation has had an effect on the way prospective candidates view the Detroit job. It’s possible the team will look to trade Stafford this offseason and move on to an uncertain future at the QB position.”
While Dodd works to confirm that interesting wrinkle about “full control” being part of the offer from Detroit to Matt Campbell, the timeline of these reports makes sense. The Lions hired Brad Holmes to be their general manager on January 14, just two days before the ESPN report that noted Detroit’s interest in the Iowa State head coach.
During Dan Campbell’s introductory press conference back in January, Lions team president Rod Wood evaded questions in regards to the team’s interest in Matt Campbell—and any other college coaches for that matter.
“I’m not going to comment on any college coaches,” said Wood. “I think we talked to a couple of you about that out of respect for their current position and recruiting. I’m not going to say whether we interviewed a college coach or whether we didn’t or whether we extended an offer. I’ll just leave it at, ‘No comment,’ on any college coaches.”