“Rod Marinelli wasn’t ready to be a head coach. As I’ve said before, there’s no crime in that.”

It will be written and recorded that Bill Ford Sr. fired Rod Marinelli. History will be wrong.

Ford didn’t fire Marinelli; circumstances did. Ford was merely the vessel, the one who sent out the press release announcing the development, one that even he, with his loyal and kind heart, couldn’t stall.

There are so few things you can count on in life anymore: getting stuck in traffic when you’re running late; being the one who finishes the toilet paper roll; paying taxes; dying. Oh, and this one: going 0-16 will get you fired.

It wasn’t impressive, not at all, that Marinelli got the ziggy yesterday after 0-16 and 1-23 and 10-38. The zenith of his time here was when he was 9-15 after the 6-2 start of 2007 (remember that?). Actually, the zenith of his time here, I believe, was in January 2006 — when he stood in front of the media throng the day he was announced as head coach.

“Good morning, men,” Marinelli famously said that day, as if he was a military general addressing the troops. I loved that opening. And I was fooled, as I’ve been in the past, that the Lions had finally found the right man to coach.

I liked that Marinelli was a D-line man, and that he appeared to appreciate the work done in the trenches. He seemed like substance over style. Then he went out and hired the run-and-gun Mike Martz to coordinate the offense, and that kind of flew in the face of the substance over style thing.

the day he was hired
Marinelli's high point: the day he was hired

The last Lions head coach worth a hill of beans was Joe Schmidt, and if he hadn’t gotten so disgusted with GM Russ Thomas and quit, Schmidt would have been the coach here for as long as he wanted. He was a former Lions player, maybe among the Top Five in team history, and Ford would have been loyal to him. Sadly, Ford sided with Thomas in the power struggle, and the Lions lost out on the best coach they’ve had since George Wilson and Buddy Parker.

But that’s all in the past. It’s all about looking forward, but with Ford in the driver’s seat, you don’t get a chance to look very far. His myopic thinking and approach has choked this franchise, and what you saw with 0-16 was the culmination of a perfect storm of poor management, bad personnel decisions, and all the bad chickens coming home to roost.

Yesterday, I asked for calm, to see what Ford would do in the Allen Park offices in the wake of 0-16. I had not posted those thoughts for more than a minute when the word came down that the only real move was to can the coach, which was terribly predictable and a cause-and-effect of going winless. Oh, another personnel guy is due to be hired, but he will, apparently, be nothing more than part of a three-headed monster — two of which are coated with the stench of what’s been going on with the Lions since 2001.

Rod Marinelli wasn’t ready to be a head coach. As I’ve said before, there’s no crime in that. There’s nothing wrong with being a fine position coach. Those are necessary, too. But he was a Matt Millen hire, who made three bad coaching choices. He was infatuated with Marty Mornhinweg after one late-night film session; he didn’t do the proper due diligence on Steve Mariucci to see if he would be a good fit here; and he selected Marinelli based on a gut feeling, since the resume wasn’t there. So don’t blame Coach Rod. HE didn’t hire him, after all.

So Millen is gone, but the feeling of euphoria that his ziggying was supposed to bring never really materialized. There’s a sort of “out of the frying pan and into the fire” thing going on here. Or, “be careful what you wish for.” Folks wanted to roll the dice and take their chances with the canning of Millen. Then as the losses piled up this season, they decided to take their chances with a winless year.

The fans got craps for their trouble and risk.

Happy New Year.

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