Did Tommy Smith meet Ken Whisenhunt?

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
7:50
AM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith said in his one press conference since taking over those posts that he would be around Nashville regularly.

That may still be the case, but since the season ended, he has not been in Nashville once.

He participated in part of Jim Caldwell's interview by phone, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. Presumably he did the same with the others. Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has a second interview in Houston, where Smith lives and works.

[+] EnlargeTommy Smith
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiTitans president Tommy Smith is expected at Tuesday's press conference announcing Ken Whisenhunt as the team's new coach.
I have not been able to get confirmation that Whisenhunt has actually met Tommy Smith face-to-face. Which makes me think he hasn't.

That tells me two things: Webster has even more power than I thought to run the football operation and Smith may be even more hands off as head of the ownership group than anyone has speculated.

I still don’t believe Smith needs to have a big presence in Nashville. In fact, I’d still argue it can be good for football people to have 800 miles of space from the owner.

I do wonder, however, what will warrant the promised visits to Nashville from Smith? After all, a press conference announcing the firing of a head coach who was with the franchise for 31 years didn’t. And interviews for his replacement didn’t.

Webster interviewed Whisenhunt Friday in San Diego, as the Chargers were getting ready for their playoff game in Denver. Smith wasn’t there, as he wasn’t in Nashville for interviews with Jay Gruden, Jim Caldwell or Mike Zimmer.

I understand Smith’s faith in Webster, and respect the team's top executive allowing his top football man to do his job. I understand that a lot can be gleaned from a phone conversation. I think Whisenhunt is probably a good choice.

But hiring an NFL head coach is a huge deal. How can a team president and CEO sign off on such a move without looking the candidate in the eye?

I’m completely open-minded about Smith as the team’s top executive. I’m told he will be at the Tuesday press conference with Whisenhunt and Webster.

He should stick around a bit after it’s over and talk to employees who won’t be visiting with him in Houston anytime soon.

That’s about everyone but Webster, Whisenhunt and the team’s top executive on non-football matters, Don MacLachlan.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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