Mariucci interviews with Lions
January 30, 2003
DETROIT (AP) -- Former San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci interviewed for the Detroit Lions head coach vacancy Thursday.
Mariucci arrived Wednesday evening in Detroit to tour Ford Field and meet with Bill Ford, team vice chairman and Ford Motor Co.'s chairman and chief executive. Mariucci spent most of Thursday at the Lions' training facility in Allen Park before heading home, team president Matt Millen said in a statement.
``Steve and I will continue to discuss this opportunity over the next few days,'' Millen said.
Ford will be in San Francisco on Saturday to give the keynote speech at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, but it's not known if he'll meet with Mariucci while in town.
Lions spokesman Bill Keenist said Mariucci is the only candidate that has had an in-person interview. However, the team is also committed to the NFL's policy of interviewing at least one minority candidate.
``We're doing our best to comply with that initiative,'' Keenist said Thursday night.
Marty Mornhinweg, who served as offensive coordinator under Mariucci with the 49ers, was fired Monday, a month after the Lions finished 3-13.
Mornhinweg had a record of 5-27 over his two seasons, the worst two-year stretch in team history.
Mariucci, who was born and raised in Iron Mountain, Mich., had a 60-43 record in six seasons with the 49ers, and he guided the team to the playoffs four times.
Gary O'Hagan, Mariucci's agent, said Thursday night that Mariucci's ties to Michigan have played a part in his interest in the Lions after he initially said he would take next year off from coaching. Mariucci did not want to be considered for the position in Jacksonville.
``I will talk to him in the morning after he returns from Detroit. Every day he moves beyond what happened in San Francisco and feels better about things. Certainly in any endeavor, it's important to feel needed and wanted,'' O'Hagan said.
Mariucci clashed with 49ers owner John York, however, and the team fired Mariucci three days after a 31-6 loss at Tampa Bay in the divisional playoffs. He had one year left on his contract.
O'Hagan would not say whether Mariucci was offered a contract by the Lions. O'Hagan, who also represents former Minnesota coach Dennis Green, would not comment on reports that Green refused to interview with the Lions because they appear to have their sights set only on Mariucci.
While Mariucci had just a 3-4 postseason record, he has won three times as many playoff games as the Lions have since winning the 1957 NFL title. Detroit beat Dallas 38-6 in the divisional playoffs on Jan. 5, 1992, and lost to Washington in the NFC championship game.