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Green withdraws from Jaguars' search

Posted: Friday January 10, 2003 1:16 PM
  Dennis Green Dennis Green's .610 winning percentage was second in Vikings' history behind Bud Grant's .618. Rick Stewart/Allsport

By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated

Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Dennis Green will withdraw his name from consideration for the Jacksonville head coaching vacancy, citing a difference in opinion regarding the potential makeup of the Jaguars personnel department, a league source said Friday.

Green on Tuesday was the first coaching candidate interviewed by the Jaguars, meeting with owner Wayne Weaver and senior vice president/football operations Paul Vance in Dallas for about five hours.

While Green had targeted the Jaguars' opening as the only one he wanted to vigorously pursue this offseason, he had reservations regarding the status quo situation that the Jaguars wanted to preserve in their personnel department. Those differences resulted in Green being considered a long shot to receive an offer from Weaver.

Weaver and Vance made it clear to Green that they wanted to keep player personnel director Rick Reiprish and college scouting director Gene Smith in their current roles, and make no significant structural changes other than replacing fired head coach Tom Coughlin and his staff of assistants.

While Green had softened his views regarding the autonomy he at first sought within the Jacksonville organization, signaling that he was open to a power-sharing arrangement with a general manager or personnel director, he was hopeful that the Jaguars would consider naming someone to that position with whom he was familiar with. Green had put forth the name of Dwight Clark, Cleveland's former director of football operations, as his GM-level candidate of choice.

Reiprish is interviewing Friday in Jacksonville for the GM-level job, although he is not considered a serious candidate for the position. The early favorite for the position is Buffalo assistant general manager Tom Modrak, who interviewed with Jacksonville on Sunday.

Jacksonville's only other coaching interview thus far has gone to University of Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, who reportedly met with Jaguars officials Wednesday. Oklahoma University head coach Bob Stoops pulled his name out of consideration Thursday, after being contacted by Jacksonville for a potential interview.

The Jaguars also have interviewed or plan to interview two Baltimore Ravens officials for their GM-level vacancy: director of pro personnel James Harris, who met with the Jaguars on Tuesday night in Dallas, and director of college scouting Phil Savage, on Saturday in Jacksonville.

Both Harris and Savage worked with Ferentz when he was an assistant on Ted Marchibroda's staff in Baltimore. Weaver is said to be searching for a coach-GM combination that has a comfort level with one another.

Savage, however, also is expected to be involved in Seattle's search for a general manager. Modrak's name has surfaced in that job hunt as well. Former Saints general manager Randy Mueller also has been mentioned as a GM candidate in both Jacksonville and Seattle, but his name appears to have cooled considerably.

Green, who worked this season as an NFL analyst on ESPN, has the strongest track record of any head coaching candidate. He won 101 games in his 10 seasons in Minnesota (1992-2001), taking the Vikings to the playoffs eight times. His candidacy is made even stronger given the NFL's concerted efforts to improve in the area of minority hiring.

Green is still owed $2.8 million this year as part of his January 2002 contract settlement with Minnesota owner Red McCombs. Thus, he didn't have to return to coaching this year unless the situation was right.

Related information
Banks: Green interviews for Jaguars' opening
Jaguars to interview second Ravens exec for GM post
Oklahoma's Stoops declines interview with Jaguars
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