Since becoming the majority owner of the St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke has patiently combed through his franchise, including the front office, coaches, marketing and sales. Monday, he applied the beginning architectural touches on his football franchise, by firing Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney.
The new era of Rams football started immediately. Kroenke appointed Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff and a hand-picked panel including former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil and Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk and several others to find the franchise’s next head coach and general manager.
It is not breaking news that successful NFL franchises are structured the same way. It starts with strong ownership. The direction from the top down creates a solid foundation and a winning tradition, and as an owner of several professional sports teams, Kroenke understands the direction his latest venture needs to move and move quickly.
A strong and supportive fan base is the key to driving revenue and bringing profits to the organization. Building a championship team through the draft, while adding key free agents to fill hot spots when needed is a major directive. All aspects of the organization (both business and football operations) must run in the same direction at optimal manner. Once that is accomplished, talent evaluation will remain the key to the future of the Rams franchise.
Kroenke will encourage and demand smart business decisions, aggressive and creative marketing and sales within the state of Missouri and surrounding states. Hiring the right head coach will ensure a smooth finish to the rock-solid foundation. His hand-picked panel, must find a new leader, in a head coach who stands tall at the helm, leads 53 men and is brilliant at Xs and Os.
The list of coaching candidates will come in the form of former NFL head coaches currently out of a job, up and coming coordinators (offense and defense). Before filling out your list of candidates to interview, it is extremely important to have the philosophy (West Coast offense, 3-4 or 4-3 defense, run dominating offense or throw-first mentality) the owner is looking for in a head coach including great leadership qualities through the organization and community, innovative Xs and Os, discipline and respect for his players and members in the organization.
Possible coaching candidates
NFL coaches with experience on the Street: Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher, Mike Sherman, Brian Billick, Brad Childress.
NFL offensive and defensive coordinators with upside: Bill Musgrave (Minnesota), Rob Chudzinski (Carolina), Brian Schottenheimer (New York Jets), Marty Mornhinweg (Philadelphia), Gregg Williams (New Orleans).
NFL coordinators with NFL head coaching experience: Mike Mularkey (2004-2005 Buffalo Bills, currently offensive coordinator at Atlanta.
College coaches: Les Miles (Louisiana State).
When asked about the next coach needing NFL head coaching experience, Demoff replied, “I think when you change coaches in any sport, everybody always expects you to do the opposite of what you did before. If you have a defensive guy you’re supposed to hire an offensive guy. If you have a player’s coach you’re supposed to hire a disciplinarian, you have a college coach you’re supposed to hire a pro coach. I think one of the things that we have to do as an organization is not shy away from what’s happened the past three years and analyze what was good, what was bad.”
“You can look at someone who’s had experience before, but it’s not going to be automatic that we’re going to look for the polar opposite of what we started with. I think we’re going to find the right fit. It could be an offensive coach, it could be a defensive coach, it could be a college coach, it could be an experienced coach out of work, it could be someone in a broadcast booth and it could be someone in the back of this room.”
In the end, Kroenke will change the culture and address the key principles of building a winning organization from the ground up, and show what is important to ownership as it applies to football operations, marketing and sales as well as it pertains to the long-term success of building a winning organization starting with the head coach and general manager.
It is no secret he made his first fortune developing commercial and retail properties. He purchased and turned two Colorado professional sports franchises into winners (the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche). The architect of several sports franchises in the United States and Europe, he seems to have the golden touch. Mr. Kroenke has a plan in place, and it started Monday.