Romeo, Oh No Romeo … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It was on this little slice of world-wide web turf some weeks ago that I wrote Romeo Crennel would get the job as head coach of the Chiefs for 2012.

Nothing has happened since to change my mind – when the smoke clears I think Crennel will be the choice.

But I don’t think he should be. While it pains me to say so, I think moving him into the top spot is only going to make for a bigger mess down the road. I’ve seen it before.

Under the category of those that do not study history are doomed to repeat it, let me introduce the Chiefs of 1986-87-88. As dysfunctional a mess as the organization has been in the last year with the poisoned relationship of GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley, things were even worse 25 years ago.

You think it’s crazy for a team to fire a head coach just a year after he led the team to a division championship and was named coach of the year? Well, it is.

But, how about firing the first head coach to take the team to the playoffs in 15 seasons? That’s what happened in 1986 when Lamar Hunt axed John Mackovic. And what was behind that? A GM in Jim Schaaf that didn’t get along with Mackovic and who helped scheme to get him fired. Players who wanted to make sure popular special teams coach Frank Gansz was not allowed to leave the organization – he had resigned to seek a coordinator’s job. Players met at kicker Nick Lowery’s house, and remarkably in what may have been a pro football first, Hunt and team president Jack Steadman went to Lowery’s home to meet with the players and hear what they had to say.

Several hours after pulling out of Lowery’s driveway, Hunt fired Mackovic. Two days later, Gansz was named head coach.

In the next two seasons the players that wanted so badly to have Gansz as their head coach went 8-22-1, and the franchise that had finally fought its way up for air, was again the laughingstock of the National Football League. Schaaf got himself fired, Steadman stepped aside and Hunt hired a fellow from Philadelphia named Carl Peterson to run the franchise.

That’s not the only time front-office interference got the head coach fired at Arrowhead. It was after the 1974 season when Steadman, then the general manager, convinced Hunt it was time to fire Hank Stram. There was a behind the scenes campaign to convince the owner – who just three years before given Stram a 10-year contract – to make the move. It was done, Stram was gone, Paul Wiggin was hired and two and a half years later Wiggin was fired after the Chiefs went 11-24.

Both decisions set back the rebuilding of the franchise three years.

Now, we have a third occasion where the Chiefs front office has created a mess and the head coach has been dispatched. Based on the lessons of history there’s one thing that we know does not change – dysfunction at the top of the operation dooms any chance the team has of pushing successfully forward.

There is a simple equation that is part of any team’s success, whether it’s the Patriots Way, the Packers Method or the Steelers Plan – there is a trust within all the working parts of the organization that everybody has an oar in the water and is rowing in the same direction. That hasn’t been the case for the last two years and only one actor in that drama was sent packing. The others are still there and have much to prove.

I think Romeo Crennel’s chance for success in this scenario is very limited. It doesn’t help that the players have campaigned so publicly for him keeping the job. If you want dysfunction, then allow the players to decide who the head coach is going to be. If that player support is even a factor in keeping Crennel then the situation is doomed. Players have no business making coaching decisions, and whether they like the head coach or not is meaningless.

Luckily, Crennel has a lot more going for him than just the support of the players, but it may not matter. If history is a road map to where the Chiefs sit right now, more danger lurks ahead. Romeo Crennel is a good man and a good coach. But then so were Paul Wiggin and Frank Gansz.

32 Responses to “Romeo, Oh No Romeo … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 5, 2012  - johnfromfairfax says:


    Your point is valid and the concern I’ve had with the way things played out this season. It’s certainly the formula that has doomed not just the Chiefs but a lot of teams over the years with a revolving door on the coach’s office. I hope in this case you’re wrong and we can be the exception to the rule.

  • January 5, 2012  - aPauled says:

    Good points Bob. My concern is that by hiring internally, Pioli sits unchallenged on decisions. By hiring a strong personality from the outside a new dynamic is created that can create some upward pressure on Pioli. It will be difficult for Romeo to do the same via an internal promotion.

  • January 5, 2012  - RW says:

    Reactionary. Yes-men only. Words to describe Jr. Hunt & his tightly leashed attack dog, Pioli? Valid points made by Bob and yet I don’t see Romeo as the boot licking yes man but I could be wrong.

    As to the abbreviated Jeff Fisher interview, I’m guessing they asked Jeff what he felt was wrong with the Chiefs and how he would fix it. He replied with an answer they didn’t want to hear which led to a “Thanks for coming” end of interview.

  • January 5, 2012  - Merwin says:

    Good article on the past repeating itself, been thinking along the same lines. I didn’t think Jeff Fisher, Gruden or Cower would want to come here, due to butting heads with Pioli right off the bat. Pioli is never going to relinquish control to any head coach. Crennel is going to be the man and I can even see Pioli telling Crennel who Pioli will be hiring for assistants. I think in Pioli’s world the coach is going to be the opposite of the Patriots way, he will have no control. Crennel may take the job as this will be his last opportunity at the top. Besides he has an out in a year or two, by retiring if he gets fed up with it. I thought Pioli was going to be a great hire, now I’m having serious second thoughts (and some people thought Peterson bad?).

  • January 5, 2012  - Chuck says:

    BOB; Your point is EXCELLENT. Actually I’ve thought that myself after seeing Romeo’s record as HC at Cleveland which is abismal at best. I think it was 23-40,not very good. The other thing that kinda “PERPLEXES ME” is everybody says Romeo is a defensive genius. Well OK then, but I ask where was the Chiefs defense when they played Buffalo, Detroit, Miami, Patriots, and the Jets??????? I love Romeo very much and think he should be given an extension and big raise as our DC. But I also fear that the “Players” have made the choice for Pioli and with Romeo being a minority he will be a shoe-in for the HC job. If “history” is any guide I too fear for the Chiefs future. Kinda sad isn’t it.

  • January 5, 2012  - ED J says:

    First off Bob good article well off base the guys you mention were first time head coaches. So its nots as if this is Romeo first time. His chance for success out way those guys because he’s done it before. Then what really bothers me is everyone keeps bringing up his failure in Cleveland which isn’t a good measuring stick for any head coach. Last I checked the Browns haven’t been good in 30yrs REALLY. Mangini, Bellichick, Romeo, so and so on. Shumur want do any better either. Last Chuck keep the racisim off this website. To say a guy is going to get a job because he’s a minority is just plan out of line. Seriously I can’t believe you even put that out there.

    Now as for how well I think Romeo will do he’ll do fine. All these fans and media wanting head coach that is not from same tree Pioli is from are being very misguided. Ask Haley how did that workout for him. If you want to run a successful organization head coach and Gm have to be on the same page. Or else you’re going to have friction which will stand in the way of both guys ability to do their job. I like the hire because Romeo already doing things his way by being so open to the media but also he has history with Pioli which should make this a seamless transition. Fans and media want the big name but reality is no big name coach is coming here when team doesn’t have franchise QB. I know its hard for some fans and media allke to swallow but get over it that’s just the way it is.

    Yes we have some nice pieces on both sides of the ball but its same reason why Fisher would rather coach the Rams than Dolphins. Dolphins and Chiefs are further along than the Rams but Rams have the most important piece the QB. The way Fisher sees it you can build around that. As for us best thing for Chiefs to do is make Romeo head coach because out of everybody out there that’s not a big name he makes the most sense and their want be a reset button that has to be hit on the progress the team has made last 3yrs.

  • January 5, 2012  - Canada Brad says:

    The best thing about assigning the HC duties to Crennel is continuity. It was very frustrating to watch Haley come in after Herm and get rid of some young promising players (think Pollard and Page). I would hate to see someone come in and make us start all over again. I think the talent base we have is very good, although lacking depth and Quality Linemen (and maybe a QB). I do not want to start from scratch again.

  • January 5, 2012  - ED J says:

    Last thing Romeo success or consistent success will be determine by if he can identify a franchise QB in next 3yrs. If either Stanzi can develop into that guy or we trade up to 2nd pick in draft and take RG3 either way that is what is going to determine the next head coach long term success is finding QB. Cassel or Orton are good stop gaps that can keep team a float until that guy is found but he’s got 3yrs to identify that guy or will be looking for new head coach and GM in 2015

  • January 5, 2012  - Craig says:

    Good Points Bob. I would argue that Gansz is no Romeo Crennel, he never was that good of a coach. Romeo has a better pedigree and track record. THe problems were not on the defensive side of the ball, but the offensive. However, I do agree that the biggest problems are higher up. The management has decided to do football on the cheap and we have no depth. The issue with management will face any coach who is hired, but Romeo has proven to me he is worth the shot. Go Chiefs!!

  • January 5, 2012  - Tenand6 says:

    100% agree, Bob.

  • January 5, 2012  - Tim says:

    Good article, Bob. My observation on al this is that in trying to create a “Chiefs” way, the vision has to be believed in & shared from the top (Hunt & Pioli). Then they must find a head coach that buys in totally. Haley didn’t – totally. If you don’t find the right guy, you end up like we have…and many other franchises. Look at Pittsburgh. They are a perfect example of a franchise that has been fortunate enough to find the right fit to perpetuate their philosophy. Their coach understands the food chain & TOTALLY buys into it. In NE, they created the philosophy in large part in reverse – with Belecheck developing a lot of the vision & everybody else buying in. Many of these high profile coaches think they’re Belecheck. Maybe they are & maybe they’re not. They’re wanting the contrrol to shape the vision from the bottom up instead of the top down. Hunt isn’t the type of guy to let that happen, hence the Pioli hire. If Pioli doesn’t get this hire right, he doesn’t, really deserve the opportunity to get the third one wrong.

  • January 5, 2012  - el cid says:

    I firmly believe in history repeating itself, especially for those who refuse to learn from it. Bob might send this article to the un-named Chief who told him about the Fisher interview, might get to Clark.

    Crennel has become a favorite of fans mostly becuase he is not Haley. He comes across as an opposite of what Haley represented. This only thing is, is not being Haley the way for the Chiefs to go? Not so sure. I seem him working in the system of Pioli until he fails or gets fed up and quits. That represents about 3 years of floundering around in the dark. I believe we will have a new GM and HC and Clark will be richer and more impatient ( on tv) in 2015.

  • January 5, 2012  - Petey says:

    I’m going to make my prediction…Romeo is hired as HC and he will be here for around 3 years (barring overwhelming success) to keep the continuity we have already developed in the last three w/ Haley (think keeping the boat moving in the same direction). Romeo is what, 63-64 years old? At the end of three years, Romeo will ‘retire’ and either our current D-Coor (no clue who this will be) or our current O-Coor (McDaniels) will now be in line for the HC position. I think if Pioli is still around, he is going to try to get JMcD another HCing job somewhere and 3 years is long enough to put away some of the negatives that happened in Denver. I realize this is nothing but a guess and a big old conspiricy theory, but it’s mine and I’m sticking to it.

  • January 5, 2012  - el cid says:

    Petey, for speculation value only, could be accurate. But what do you guess it means for the Chiefs, team and record wise? Do we become a team in “contending every year” or a 10-6 to 6-10 middle of the road team or bottom feed (worst in the West)? If you are will to look into that cystal ball again, what do you see?

  • January 5, 2012  - jim says:

    Somebody said it earlier….Romeo is liked because he is NOT Haley, and the new hasn’t completely worn off yet. The Wiggins/Ganz comparison of HC is not valid either. Neither had HC experience, and Ganz was at best a ST coach who could tell a good story and excite folks.

    Cautiously optomistic, I think Romeo could (not will) do well, depending on who is brought in as OC/DC, and if Junior loosens up the ass pocket and gets a few young FA to round things out will help dramatically. An 11-5, or better, season puts this speculation to rest—-at least for a year.

    Yea, I understand history, but in this case we’re not REALLY comparing apples to apples. Some variable and dynamics exist here that didn’t necessarily exist in the Mackovic, Wiggins/Ganz era.

    In business I truly do understand continuity and it is terrible important, but the management group has to be COMPLETELY on the same page. This is my concern with Junior, Pioli and ANYBODY they hire as HC. We still seem to be rather dysfunctional at the top.

  • January 5, 2012  - Rick says:

    We’ll be a middle of the pack, occasional play off team, until we get a better QB than the likes of Cassel.

  • January 5, 2012  - ED J says:

    Jim you hit nail on the head so did you Rick. I think this head coach thing about Romeo taking position is overblown and I did expect better from Bob since he’s been covering football 30 plus yrs. The most important hire for this team is not HEAD COACH. Its OFF coordinator/QB coach. I don’t believe after reading War Room Pioli is type of guy to take high risk high reward chances like trading up to get RG3 with #2 pick in the draft. Its just not in his DNA it would be best move for franchise he just doesn’t have it in him to do it.

    So next best thing is Orton moves on. We keep Cassel and Stanzi as #1 and #2 guys. We all know o-line is going be upgrade its just been talked about so much its going to be improved next season. So now it goes back to OC. We must I repeat must bring in a very bright offensive mind that cannot only get guys like Mcluster, Breaston, Baldwin more involved in the offense but someone who can get Cassel back to level he played at in 2010. Cassel is good enough to win some games get to playoffs and win a game or 2.

    In saying that it will by Romeo and Scott sometime to find that next Brady. I’m sure Pioli will take another late round QB this yr if preety good one is out there or next yr. The search will be on until that guy identify himself until then we can get by with Matt. But like I’ve said before fans and media alike needs to be more concerned with who we bring in as OC than head coach. AS far as differences in haley and Romeo of course their different but its not like Romeo coming from another team. He was around this team to see how strength and conditioning program has made this a tougher team he’s not going to back off that. To further my point anyone remeber the Colts game when defense was underperforming and Romeo brought the whip out and defense didn’t give up a single point the second half the guy knows how to coach period.

  • January 5, 2012  - Petey says:

    You know Cid, that’s a good question and what I think is going to happen is we are going to compete for our division crown every year for forseeable future because it is so terrible. Denver is a mess w/ Teblow, SD kept Norv and the raiders have mortgaged the short-term future w/ Palmer. I don’t see us having more the 10 wins unless we get some lucky bounces and lucky scheduling. Beyond that, I don’t know. I don’t even know how I feel about Cassel right now. I know there are some on this board (ED) who would have his head on a stick, but Casell is what he is, a game manager that can be good and effective if he’s not asked to carry the load by himself (think Flacco). We are not keeping Orton next year and we aren’t drafting a sure fire stud QB and I don’t believe Stanzi is the short-term answer either. I think those who read these need to probably understand that Matt Cassel will be our starting QB next year, unless he gets beat out by someone much like himself.

  • January 5, 2012  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    Thanks a lot, Bob, for bringing up some bad memories. I remember those days from growing up in NY. I almost swore off my allegiance to the Chiefs. Almost. I saw that 1986 playoff game against the Jets at The Meadowlands. Loss.

    You gentlemen (in the Comments) present very good arguments for and against Romeo. I, for one, believe he should at least remain DC. I was impressed with the Defense this year, once they got their legs under them. I am very nervous about “player coaches”. Saw that up close here with the Packers when they hired Ray Rhoads(?) and went 8-8. He was busy playing cards with them in the locker room. Romeo is not Todd. That’s one reason that the Chiefs finished 2-1. But Todd brought some badly needed discipline and conditioning to this team.

    I still think that this was going to be a throw away year; with the really good, established teams doing well and all the bad and “work-in-progress” teams doing poorly because of no Spring and Summer work.

    To me, Pioli gets a mulligan. He better get it right and not hit “restart”. I’m tired of rebuilding.

    And I agree with the comment about not gaging lack of success in Cleveland with future results. The Cleveland Browns Stadium is a “factory of sadness.” (check the video

    Go CHIEFS!

  • January 5, 2012  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Jim was right when he said that Frank Ganz could tell a good story and excite people. Unfortunley, his wartime exploits, i.e. being a fighter piolt, were not true. He was at best a good special teams coach that should of stayed that way.

  • January 5, 2012  - RW says:

    At some point in time, the truth squad has to surface the brutal facts about the Chiefs and their perpetual quest to be relevant. Call this one guy’s intervention or open letter to Jr. Hunt:

    1) Jr., YOU are part of the problem. Either sell the team or, short of that, turn the complete control over to an experienced competent GM. Let a competent search committee pick that person and keep your hands out of it.

    2) Firing Haley was understood but why is Pioli still the GM? The two positions should come in together and go out the same way. As to who to hire, see point 1) above.

    3) Once hired, the new GM should be the face of the franchise and be given the power to acquire and pay for talent on monies that you have bumped up to maximum cap allowance.

    That’s for openers. Suffice to say the current ‘plan’, if you can call it a plan, is failing. That is, unless the plan is more about achieving mediocrity and bilking the paying customers while building the bottom line through cost cutting whenever and wherever possible.

    The considerable ego interfaced with dumb football decisions of Jr. Hunt sadly suggests the Chiefs will continue to rattle around choppy seas while occasionally only seeing a Superbowl port from afar.

  • January 5, 2012  - el cid says:

    RW interesting. Petey, very interesting. I believe the fans, at least those with computers, are beginning see behind the veil that is a team called the KC Chiefs, owned by a Hunt, managed by good Hunt soldiers, coached by mere mortals, and players, some good/some bad.

    What you have to remember while the NFL is about parity, the Chiefs are not. There are 32 teams and 16 make the playoffs, the other, due to their own inability, are doomed to the lower level of football hell. There firmly planted are the Chiefs. They are always about next year, just that one magical play away, don’t worry we have it under control. All the time Hunt get richer, I know shouldn’t care but his “team” is lacking so much. I guess we need to enjoy the few wins and get over ourselves, we are just not that good.

  • January 5, 2012  - cychief24 says:

    WOW! Some surprises here, huh?
    Did someone hijack Edj? He is presenting what I have been preaching for most of this season. Glad to finally have you on board Edj!
    I agree Cassel is a good QB that we can get 1-2 games through the Playoffs with IF Pioli fixes the O-line.
    I agree with many here that Romeo would provide positive continuity as a Head Coach. He’ll keep the discipline that is the one thing Haley did bring in after Hermie’s playground.

    Bob disappoints again. It doesn’t seem like he can get over his bitterness over Peterson retiring. The 2 examples are really not close at all and he should know that. I’m not as familiar with the firing of the Great Hank Stram, I was in HS. But situation was more like Vermeil in that the roster got very old.
    I do know Mackovic/Gansz situation isn’t comparable to this year. I was in my 8th year of season tickets. Gansz’ background and integrity couldn’t hold a candle to Romeo. Gansz made up stories about his past and had never been anything close to a HC.

    Hiring Romeo means the GM and HC WILL be on the same page. This will be Romeo’s 2nd HC job and he will learn from Cleveland. I think he showed in the last 3 games he already has.

    Come on Bob. Get it together. Carl did wonderful things in KC by changing the Arrowhead atmosphere and hiring Marty. He’s gone, move on and cover these Chiefs. Please.

  • January 5, 2012  - 3PlayoffWinsSinceSBIV says:

    What Hunt and Pioli are seemingly oblivious to is that the NFL now is all about the QB.

    The Patriots Way is Brady, not Belichek.

    The Packers Way is Favre and Rodgers.

    The Saints Way is Brees.

    Now is not the time for a defensive coach. Now is the time for a top QB and a focus on offense.

  • January 5, 2012  - Rowan says:

    RAC will get along w Paoli. He will not be a yes man in private but will close ranks in public. P will probably listen to him. He exudes something we need–maturity and integrety. Nobody at the moment seems to see much of this in P or H. He has the stature to get good coaches. He will get good OC and let him do his thing. He gives stability and continuity. He has past HC experience and 5 rings. He OK w Patriot model I suspect Haley was very clear Stee lers were his model. Clash. RAC, perhaps uniquely fill current needs. He could be the good apple that unspoils the barrell–or at least the wise old guy that helps mature P and H. What else could we ask for?

  • January 5, 2012  - Jonathan Fortune says:

    Bob it’s nice you brought up some past history but I am getting tired of your attitude. I wish you would put your bitterness behind you otherwise go cover the Dophins where Carl is the GM or your Steelers or for that matter any other team.

    Cowher, Gruden, and Fisher aren’t and weren’t coming to Kansas City in the first place because of either financial reasons, personnel control, or having an established QB. The Rams have an established QB in Bradford minus the injuries but the Chiefs and Dolphins are still trying to figure out their situation. I doubt the Chiefs would trade number one picks for either Luck, RG III, or a healthy Manning because that is not Pioli’s MO. The best thing to do is to hire Crennel to keep some continuity and hire a top notch OC to help out the offense.

    Everybody needs to stop talking about Crennel’s record at Cleveland because Belichick just like Romeo had only one winning year. Mangini had two good years with the Jets before having two bad years with the Browns. I think Romeo has learned from his mistakes and has currently a team with better talent than any of his Cleveleand teams. Since Hunt has to spend money next year if Pioli can find some pieces in free agency and the draft the Chiefs can win the AFC West next year. The other teams have some question marks themselves so it is possible.

  • January 6, 2012  - Bill Leifer says:

    There is a huge difference in this situation compared with the past. Jack Steadman was a playboy, uninterested in football and only concerned with schtupping the women who worked in the front office. He was a cancer, and Hunt was insane to keep him as long as he did. Hunt was a great man but waaaay to loyal. When those moves were made with Stram being fired, the Chiefs were on the downside of the curve with aging veterans all getting old at once but still too good for young guys to beat out. The same dynamic with Steadman and Shaaf was in place with the Mackovic/Wiggins fiasco. Innumerable bad drafts and terrible decisions. The names are too numerous to mention, but include Todd Blackledge, Percy Snow, etc. Steadman knew nothing about football and only wanted the perks and the prestige.

    This is an entirely different situation. Romeo has been part of 5 successful teams but didn’t have a lot of talent to work with in Cleveland. The Chiefs are missing only a few pieces and some depth. Haley was was a hasty hire, with no real HC experience. The lockout hurt the Chiefs worse than about any team because of their youth and stage of development of their developing players. Then losing their three best players put the nail in the coffin. Pioli may be the wrong guy. We still do not know. He needs to put more decisions in the hands of the HC. But he can’t really be fired at this stage after one bad HC hire. It just can’t and shouldn’t be done. If he can sign Carr and Bowe and pick up another strong piece, and let Crennel have draft input and more overall authority, then he might succeed, but it would be truly insane to start over, switch schemes, and have to start drafting large numbers of new pieces to fit a new puzzle. Bob, I usually agree with you, but I think you are drawing too much from a history that really has no parallel with the current situation.

  • January 6, 2012  - el cid says:

    Gosh Bill quite a slam on Lamar. He left Stedman in charge just to have his way with office staff, for, what, 20 years. Jack’s abilities have risen a whole lot in my eyes. I always thought his was a business, not football, intelligence. But you seem to know.

    Pioli may be the wrong guy, reading into it, you must be a long term guy over immediate satisfaction kind. For me I do not have 20 years that Lamar game Jack, won’t live that long. I think Pioli has shown his colors pretty well. He is all about the future, the distant future, to heck with next year. Not my kind of guy.

  • January 6, 2012  - Bill Leifer says:

    Yep. Believe it or not. He and Lamar were good friends, and he gave Steadman credit for the Stram years and Super Bowl victory, even though that was the product of the AFL/NFL wars and going out and getting players signed PRIOR to the NFL draft. All of our stars were signed that way. Though I was only in college at that time, I have a relative who was a Chiefs office insider or had a best friend who was, and I was privy to the inner happenings in Lamar land at the time. Steadman was a guy who everyone knew was interested in the perks and the cocktail parties and the prestige. He was no football mind. He also was pretty “busy” with the females in his employ. Granted, this is second hand, but it is a reliable second hand bit of knowledge. Most of those involved at the time are dead or part of Clark’s dad’s inner circle.

  • January 7, 2012  - txchief says:

    Man, this site has got to be one of the worst repositories for unhappy, paranoid conspiracy theorists.

    There was a great deal of bad management for many years because Lamar trusted his buddies to make good decisions, and many of them did not.

    In case you all have not noticed, Clark and Pioli have cleaned house, but everyone here is already comdemning them after just three seasons. I don’t think anyone on this site can be satisfied or be pleased with anything! I’m sure glad I’m not your child, spouse or coworker! Sheesh!

  • January 7, 2012  - Petey says:

    TX, what do you expect when we get NOTHING from One Arrowhead Dr? I’ll answer: unhappy, paranoid consipiracy theories. It’s football, it’s not real life…this is entertainment and a release for most people. Please don’t confuse the two.

  • January 8, 2012  - cychief24 says:

    My hope is that Pioli didn’t read that Haley was bipolar during the interview process.
    Romeo is a level headed adult who I believe will learn from his 1st HC job, like Belichick did, and will work well with Pioli.
    That’s my hope!

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