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Friday, January 28, 2011
Things might line up for Mike Munchak

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans will take their time and they will be thorough in searching for Jeff Fisher’s replacement.

But incumbent offensive line coach Mike Munchak’s candidacy has one major thing going for it.

Mike Munchak
Hall of Famer Mike Munchak has been an assistant with the Oilers/Titans since 1994.
Regarded as the top in-house candidate, Munchak’s been an assistant with the Oilers/Titans since 1994. The Pro Football Hall of Famer has strong relationships with the staff, and he’s one of 14 remaining assistants from Fisher’s staff who is under contract.

Bud Adams hates to pay people who are no longer working for him. But he’s paying Jeff Fisher $4 million and paying former defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil an unknown amount for the 2010 season.

The Titans will also be paying those assistants -- whether those coaches remain in Nashville or not.

But the new coach will have the discretion to choose who to keep.

Munchak -- or offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger or linebacker coach Dave McGinnis, also likely candidates -- would be more apt to retain holdovers.

And that would save Adams money at a time when he could lose revenue because of a lockout. He’d rather pay one coach per position than two, and an outsider is more likely to want to infuse the staff with his own people.

Fisher didn’t offer an endorsement of Munchak when asked, leaning on his regular stance of not getting into hypotheticals.

Instead, he encouraged confidence in the two men with whom he could not move forward, the team’s top Nashville official, Steve Underwood, and GM Mike Reinfeldt.

“You should have all the confidence in the world in Mike and Steve and the decisions they make going forward,” Fisher said. “That allowed me to be successful here, the confidence they had in me and vice versa.”

Munchak is an Adams favorite. He's dealt with him as a player and as an assistant. He’s made the owner proud by gaining football immortality with a bronze bust in Canton and a yellow jacket. He’s reasonable and measured, and while I think it would take time for him to become comfortable as the face of the franchise, he could surely work well with Reinfeldt to achieve the sort of consensus the team wants to have key the center of its operation.

I looked at the three current assistants on Thursday, here.

To me, it’s still wise to be thorough and allow for the possibility that you encounter the next Mike Tomlin.

But if you follow the money, it says place your early bets on Munchak.