Friday, January 18, 2013
GM journey: The path to Idzik
By Rich Cimini
It took 19 days and included interviews with 10 candidates, but the Jets finally found their new general manager. The journey:
Dec. 31 -- Owner Woody Johnson fires longtime GM Mike Tannenbaum in a morning meeting. Johnson announces in a statement he has hired head hunter Jed Hughes of the Korn/Ferry consulting firm to conduct the search for a new GM. Neither Johnson nor Tannenbaum address the media, but an emotional Tannenbaum shows up in the press room late in the day to say goodbye to reporters.
The Jets receive permission to interview 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble, Falcons director of player personnel Dave Caldwell and Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross. They arrange an interview with the top in-house candidate, assistant GM Scott Cohen. They comprise the so-called "A" list -- executives with all-football backgrounds.
Jan. 2 -- They set up an interview with former Browns GM Tom Heckert, who, like Tannenbaum, was fired the day after the season.
Jan. 3 -- The Jets receive permission to speak with Packers director of football operations John Dorsey.
Jan. 4 -- Caldwell is first in the batting order. He interviews with team officials in Florham Park. He's already drawing heavy interest from the Jaguars.
Jan. 5 -- Gamble is next up in the interview process. He's the so-called hot candidate. ESPN reports that Gamble turned down a second interview with the Jaguars to focus on the Jets, fueling speculation he's The Guy, but some insiders believe the Jaguars cancelled the interview, not Gamble.
Heckert cancels his interview with the Jets, reportedly citing concerns with their salary-cap situation. Dorsey's interview is postponed; he's rumored to be at the top of the Chiefs' list. The Jets still keep him under consideration.
Jan. 7 -- Time for the locals to get their shot -- Cohen and Ross, who also has interviewed for the Jaguars, Panthers and Chargers. Ross is a minority, allowing the Jets to satisfy for Rooney Rule. As part of the process, the Jets speak with other front-office members, picking their brains on the positives and negatives of the football operation.
Meanwhile, Caldwell returns for a second interview. According to SI.com, the Jets give Caldwell a tour of the area near their facility and prepare a contract package that includes a $1 million housing allowance. Sources indicate that the $1 million allowance was actually on Caldwell's list of demands.
Jan. 8 -- Finally, Johnson meets the media, confirming that the next GM will have to co-exist with Rex Ryan for at least a year. Ryan says he's eager to work with the new GM, insisting it will be a happy marriage.
The Caldwell courtship ends; he accepts an offer to become the Jaguars' GM.
Jan. 9 -- The Jets decide to expand the search. They set up interviews with former Bears GM Jerry Angelo, Dolphins assistant GM Brian Gaine, Seahawks vice president of football administration John Idzik, Steelers director of football and business administration Omar Kahn, former Broncos GM Ted Sundquist and former Saints and Dolphins GM Randy Mueller.
Angelo isn't on Hughes' original list, but he lands an interview after strong recommendation from former longtime GM Bill Polian, who reaches out to the Jets. They also receive permission to speak with Colts vice president of football operations Tom Telesco, but it's a non-starter. Telesco already is a finalist for the Chargers' vacancy and, sure enough, he's hired by the end of the day.
Jan. 10 -- Angelo, Gaine and Khan arrive in New York for their interviews, conducted at Johnson's office in Manhattan. Gaine, a former Jets scout raised in Pearl River, N.Y., is recognized by a group of fireman at LaGuardia Airport. They wish him luck.
Jan. 11 -- Idzik, Mueller and Sundquist join the party. They arrive for their interviews.
Jan. 12 -- Scratch another name from the list; Dorsey is hired by the Chiefs, as expected.
Jan. 13 -- Angelo, Cohen and Khan emerge as leading candidates, according to an ESPN report.
Jan. 14 -- Ross withdraws his name from consideration. He never was considered a serious candidate.
Jan. 15 -- Khan returns to the New York area for a second interview. Khan and Ryan meet for the first time, discussing football philosophy. This is Ryan's first involvement in the process.
Jan. 16 -- A second interview for Idzik, whose stock is soaring. He, too, gets a chance to sit down with Ryan.
Jan. 17 -- Idzik returns to Seattle. He tells people at the Seahawks' facility that he's in talks with the Jets and hopes to have it resolved by the night. One person describes him as slightly torn. He loves his job in Seattle, but recognizes the magnitude of the Jets' opportunity.
Jan. 18 -- At 5:20 p.m., the Jets make it official, announcing Idzik as their new GM.