Not more than 20 hours after the Kansas City Chiefs ended their 2012 season, I had the privilege of joining Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt in his office at One Arrowhead Drive. During our conversation, we discussed the dismissal of Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel, the immediacy of hiring the team’s next head coach and much more; here is the transcript.
What was your conversation like with Romeo? How did he respond?
“Those are always very difficult conversations. I think Romeo has been in this business long enough, where he probably knew it was coming. He understands it’s a performance business and two wins are not good enough. At the same time, I know he would love to continue on; he loves the Kansas City Chiefs. He told me how much he appreciated the opportunity to be here and how sorry he was that he wasn’t able to get it done for us.”
What does it mean to you that he responded that way, apologizing for the lack of success?
“I think it just speaks volumes about the character of Romeo Crennel. He’s a tremendous individual. I think that’s something that all of us who have had a chance to work with him for the last several years have gotten to know and he’s somebody who is very, very well respected around the National Football League because of that.”
What are some of the key attributes you’re looking for in our next head coach?
“I want somebody who’s a proven leader, somebody who has been a part of building a successful program, somebody who’s an effective communicator and teacher, somebody who has a high football IQ and is willing to roll up his sleeves and really work hard, somebody who will hold himself accountable, as well as his coaches and the team and then finally, somebody of high character, somebody with a lot of integrity.”
You mentioned looking for a proven communicator, a leader, how do you determine that?
“That’s what the interview process is really for. Obviously, some people have had a chance, through other head-coaching opportunities, where you can evaluate them in their roles in the places they’ve been, but the interview process is really designed to help you figure out those qualities and try to pick the guy that’s going to be the right coach to lead the Kansas City Chiefs on a go-forward basis.”
How will your experience in making difficult decisions with other sports franchises help you in the decision-making process for our next head coach?
“It’s part of the business and it’s always a tough part of the business. Obviously, you would like to hire somebody and have him spend the rest of his career with you and that will certainly be our goal as we go into this process, to find somebody who can be with us for the long term. I am a strong believer in continuity and if you can find the right individual in the coaching position, it allows you to have continuity.”
Why the immediacy of the hiring process?
“We do have a number of other teams out there who are looking for a head coach and it’s always very competitive, the first couple of weeks of January, that’s one of the reasons why it’s important for me to start the search right away. We want to be in the mix with top candidates. We don’t have a timeline but at the same time, we want to make sure we have a shot at a lot of the candidates that we put on our A-list.”
I understand that you are implementing a new-reporting structure for the next coach, what will that look like and why the change?
“Historically, the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs has reported to the general manager; we’re going to change that reporting structure on a go-forward basis. The head coach is going to report directly to me. I’m making this change because I think it gives us the best chance of finding the best coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.”