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Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Bly points finger for firing at Harrington

ESPN.com news services

At least two Detroit Lions players remained in Steve Mariucci's corner Monday.

Spartans coach dispirited
by Mariuccci's ouster
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo was disappointed friend Steve Mariucci was fired as coach of the Detroit Lions.

"If I try to take my friend hat off and put on my coach hat, I feel that he received a lot of unfair treatment," Izzo said in a statement. "As saddened as I am, no one deserves to go through what he has in the last month. I can't wait to help him move on to bigger and better things.

"As I tell my team, outside influences can have an impact without really knowing what's going on," Izzo said. "I honestly believe outside influences were a factor here."

Izzo and Mariucci became friends growing up in Iron Mountain in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They attended Northern Michigan together in the mid-1970s.

Gary O'Hagan, Mariucci's agent, wouldn't address speculation that Mariucci will replace John L. Smith as Michigan State's football coach. O'Hagan also represents Smith.

-- The Associated Press

Cornerback Dre' Bly and quarterback Jeff Garcia both thought the blame for the team's poor record shouldn't have rested on the now ex-coach.

"If we'd had production on offense, in particular the quarterback position, Mooch wouldn't have been fired," Bly told the Detroit Free Press. "If Jeff Garcia hadn't gotten hurt, we wouldn't be in this position today. Mooch wouldn't have gotten fired."

Garcia missed the first five games after breaking his leg in the final preseason game. He started twice -- winning in Cleveland and losing to Chicago -- but then missed the Minnesota, Arizona and Dallas games with soreness in the leg.

"We're all at fault, but I just feel like Joey [Harrington]'s been here four years, and being the No. 3 pick in the draft, he hasn't given us anything," Bly told the paper. "He hasn't given us what the third pick in the draft should give us."

Garcia, who played for Mariucci in San Francisco, pointed to the Lions front office.

"You start to question whether the organization has the people in place who can go about making the proper selections," Garcia told WXYT-AM, according to the paper. "You really have to question that."

General manager Matt Millen hired both Mariucci and his predecessor, Marty Mornhinweg, and drafted or signed most of the current players. Since Millen took over in 2001, Detroit is an NFL-worst 20-55.

He fired Mariucci after two-plus seasons and a 15-28 record.

The Lions promoted defensive coordinator Dick Jauron to succeed him on an interim basis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.