January 12, 2013, 7:00 pm
They courted Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, and he went back to Penn State.
They courted Oregon coach Chip Kelly, and he went back to Oregon.
They courted Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, and he went back to Notre Dame.
The Eagles went 0-for-3 trying to pry three of the most prominent college coaches in football loose from their current jobs to fill their head coaching vacancy, and although all three met at length with the Eagles’ coaching search committee, all three shot down the Eagles fairly soon after their interviews.
Because of that, whether accurate or not, there’s now a perception that this is not an attractive landing spot for leading head coaching candidates and that the Eagles are struggling in their attempts to replace Andy Reid, fired on Dec. 31 after 14 years as head coach.
The fact that the Eagles’ top three candidates were high-profile college coaches and they were unable to land any of them and there are no other known college coaches on their radar makes it look like whatever happens next, their coaching search has been a failure up until this point.
All the remaining known candidates – Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Colts offensive coordinator and interim head coach Bruce Arians and former Bears coach Lovie Smith are believed to be in the top group – are NFL coaches.
The Eagles have also interviewed Falcons assistants Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, and they’re scheduled to meet this week with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
So unless they end up hiring a college coach who they haven’t yet been connected with, they will be hiring an NFL assistant who doesn’t fit the profile of their top three candidates.
And that does not look good.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman did not respond to e-mailed questions about the direction of the coaching search and why the Eagles tried so hard to hire a college coach and what it means that they were unable to.
Other than a video posted on the team’s web site, Roseman has not been available to the media since the coaching search began. Same with owner Jeff Lurie and president Don Smolenski, the other members of the search committee.
But it’s clear the Eagles are aware of the perception that being spurned by three college coaches has created.
The team’s public relations department released a statement Saturday evening addressing this, although the statement didn’t identify if the comments were from Lurie, Smolenski or Roseman.
“There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job,” the statement read.
“We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts. We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”
E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com