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On the Ravens' coaching search

The Baltimore Sun

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jessica Simpson and San Diego Chargers backup quarterback Billy Volek for speeding up the Ravens' coaching search.

Now, we don't have to wait until after the Super Bowl for the Ravens to talk to all of the likely candidates.

The way it was looking - until Sunday - you had to figure one or two of the top contenders would be in the postseason for at least another week, but a couple of upsets have pretty much cleared the schedules of Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and a couple of other possibilities.

Which is why I joined the stakeout yesterday at the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills.

The fireplace in the lobby is roaring these days and could release several puffs of purple smoke from the chimney at any time to signify that a new coach has been hired. Garrett is reportedly already in town for his second interview, so everybody is on full alert.

Don't get too excited. It still could take some time, because owner Steve Bisciotti promised a thorough search involving many candidates and at least two rounds of interviews, though Garrett appeared to be the strong front-runner and the search committee would like to wrap this thing up as soon as practical.

(By the way, if you're wondering why Marty Schottenheimer has not had a face-to-face interview yet, it's because he earned a bye into the second round of the search by virtue of having one of the two best regular-season won-lost records during the 2006 season.)

You've probably noticed there isn't a lot of solid information about the coaching search, and that is to be expected in the NFL, which controls information only slightly more carefully than the National Security Agency.

If you want proof, take a look at the Ravens' Web site, where one of the lead stories is about the upcoming concert by Kenny Chesney at M&T; Bank Stadium (May 10). The only reference to the coaching search is a story explaining why there would be no further stories about the coaching search.

"There's no competitive advantage to leaking names," Kevin Byrne, senior vice president of public and community relations, said in the Web report. "There are disadvantages. I know this: The research and interview process are thorough. Normally, we are a transparent organization that includes the fans. We can't do that now."

That's fine with me, because that leaves no vehicle for team officials to dispute some of the outrageous scenarios I'm planning to come up with over the next couple of weeks if something doesn't happen soon.

Obviously, the media would prefer the Ravens ran their process the way the Orioles did during their managerial search after Mike Hargrove was fired. They trotted out every finalist for a news conference and used it as another evaluation tool. Then they passed over Terry Francona, who has won two World Series since then. It's not a perfect science.

I'll say this: The Ravens are more open than the Washington Redskins. The Ravens have brought six candidates into the Castle to interview, and one of them - John Harbaugh - even stopped to talk with the media on the way out. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was reportedly scheduled to interview Gregg Williams for much of the day at Snyder's home.

Snyder has also reportedly interviewed candidates at various off-site locations over the past week, so I don't know the significance of inviting Williams to his home. It's either to ensure privacy or find out whether Williams can also do laundry.

The Ravens, at least, have made it possible to have a real stakeout, though yesterday was spent largely staring at Bisciotti's empty parking space and wondering if he had decided to hold the second round of interviews at Snyder's house.

Don't misunderstand, it's not a stakeout in the classic sense. The Ravens knew we were there. It's not like Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez in the 1987 movie Stakeout, with someone hiding somewhere and spying on someone ... or sending an intern out to videotape the other team's signals. It's more like sitting around the media room hoping the PR department has enough of the 2007 budget left for pizza.

The highlight for me was making a restaurant run for the guys, though the cheapskates didn't even offer to pay for gas.

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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