December 30, 2003 at 7:33 PM EST - Updated June 16 at 10:20 PM
Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown responded to the worst season in franchise history by firing Dick LeBeau, the team's eighth head coach. Industry analysts and fans, alike, wanted to see the micro-managing president step down. However, he announced no plans of finding a replacement. FOX19's Dan Hoard caught up with the beleaguered and embroiled Brown Monday morning.
Dan Hoard: What kind of coach are you looking for?
Mike Brown: We want a winning coach. We aren't restricting our search to just an offensive coach or a defensive coach. We will include a number of people, both here now and elsewhere. There are people we are interested in, including some with playoff teams, but I'm not able to give you any names now. There's a league policy we have to abide by. We're going to look for the guy who brings the most to the table. Ours is a team that needs to be shaken up some.
DH: When you met with Dick LeBeau, did he make a case for keeping his job?
MB: He understood when he walked in the door what was going to happen. We talked for a few minutes and I thanked him. He's made a tremendous effort and I still hold him in high regard and consider him a friend.
DH: Will you make changes to the scouting department?
MB: The scouting department has five people and we get the same information on players as the other teams. Our drafting record indicates that. I don't apologize for our scouting efforts.
DH: Will the new head coach have more power?
MB: Ours has as much power as most head coaches. What they say carries great weight; This is not a dictatorship. For example, the year we drafted Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons in the first round, I wanted to draft Randy Moss and Vonnie Holiday. Bruce Coslet wanted Spikes and Simmons so that's who we picked. That's a fair example of the coach's power.
DH: What about this year's 2-14 team?
MB: We have the basic parts of a solid team. Yardage stats are indicative of a team's performance and we finished 18th on offense and 17th on defense. We have some capable people. It was a run of the luck thing. It goes beyond that, but that's a big part of it.
DH: How will you attract a good coach with the Bengals' poor reputation?
MB: A coach can look here and see this is a team that has talent.
DH: Will the new coaching staff still be required to scout in the off-season?
MB: Coaches will continue to scout. The coordinators are free to get involved if they want to, but they don't have to. In the past, they've chosen to, but didn't have to. We have a lot of coaches, and there's only so much "x-ing and o-ing" possible. Scouting is a good use of their time."
DH: Do you care about winning?
MB: I'm often criticized for the use of the word 'competitive'. People misconstrue my use of that word. We want to win; Of course we want to win. In this business you're judged by your won/loss record.
DH: Have you considered hiring a new general manager?
MB: I do not intend to hire a g.m.
DH: Why did LeBeau fail?
MB: He did his job. I thought,quite honestly,that he did it well. We're under a tremendous amount of pressure here. He stood up to that and got our players to try hard all the way.
DH: Will you try to make a splash by hiring a big name?
MB: It's not the initial splash that matters. All that matters is whether we win. All splashes will ripple out by the first preseason game. What happens after that will determine how successful we were.
DH: Previous hires have frequently had ties to the Bengals. Will that be a factor this time?
MB: We'll look at candidates, both inside and outside. Whether they were here before will not determine how this comes out. The new group will probably be a mix to some degree.
DH: Are you worried that the players will be upset if you don't clean house?
MB: I'm not so concerned with pleasing the players as having the players please me and the fans.
DH: Are you worried about the declining fan base?
MB: Fans are why we do what we do. If we disappoint them, it's a critical problem for us and we've disappointed them more than at any point in our history. I read the paper every day. I even read the letters to the editors and I get letters down here. I am not unaware of how the public feels and they have a right to feel that way. In this city and this country, people want to win. All I want to say to them is we're going to do everything we can to get it turned around as quickly as possible.
DH: Will you give Kitna his bonus even though he didn't quite reach 80 percent?
MB: We made a deal. If he gets the number, then he gets the increase in salary. If he gets it, he gets it. If he doesn't, he doesn't. That was the deal.