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Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Surprise, Pagano named Colts head coach

By Jamison Hensley

When Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano got to interview for the Indianapolis Colts' head coaching job, I thought it was a good first step that would help him prepare for the future when he had a better shot at becoming one.

John Harbaugh and the Ravens host the 3-2 Texans in Week 6.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano (right) helped the Baltimore Ravens achieve a 12-4 record in 2011.
Pagano had never interviewed for a head coaching job. He was only one year removed from being a secondary coach.

But surprise — Pagano was named the new head coach of the Colts today, as first reported by Pro Football Talk.

"It's difficult to leave the Ravens, but I couldn't pass up on this great opportunity," Pagano said in a statement released by the Ravens. "I'm just thrilled and so excited."

Pagano is exactly what a Colts team needs in what should be an offseason of change in Indianapolis. He has a take-charge approach that was beloved and respected by the Ravens players. His enthusiasm is infectious.

When a Ravens defensive back broke up a big pass in practice, he's on the sideline starting the chant of that player's name. And, during last year's training camp, when the defense stopped Joe Flacco a few yards short of the end zone in a two-minute drill to end practice, Pagano was the first one running on the field with his fist raised high.

He exudes confidence and wants his players to be aggressive. As a coach, he's been known to throw hats and headsets in fits of anger. As a college player in the early '80s, he was known for delivering big hits — "a headhunter," as Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson once put it — as a 155-pound safety at Wyoming.

When he talks, it's a mixture of brashness and a sense of humor. His approach is Rex Ryan light.

Once asked if he ever considered working again for the Raiders, Pagano said, "a two-year sentence in Oakland is enough."