Hirings, firings, and general musings on a Monday morning:
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It is old news to suggest Toledoan Rob Chudzinski didn’t deserve the treatment he got from the Cleveland Browns’ front office. Not the way it threw away the 2013 draft or the way it signed free agents who were far more complementary players than stars.
Just about every move was made for the future, a future that Chudzinski never realized upon being fired after just one season.
Then there was the mess at quarterback and the shuffled deck at running back, neither of which was solvable under the circumstances. The suggestion that the Browns didn’t play hard for Chud was mostly nonsense. The charge they didn’t improve as the season wore on is less nonsensical, but what chance did the coach have?
Can you say scapegoat?
Chud got a new job this past weekend. He’ll be the special assistant to Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. He is going to a playoff team with a solid young quarterback. It is a good organization with a confident coach in charge.
It is the first step in the rehabilitation of a very good young coach. His NFL journey continues and he is in a good place with a large upside on offense, which is his area of specialty.
If he someday lands another head coaching position it will undoubtedly be at a better place than his first shot, with a better front office that will give him a fair shake.
■ At least Chudzinski got a full season. First-year coach Maurice Cheeks got the axe from the Detroit Pistons after 50 games of an 82-game schedule. It came after wins by 16 and 17 points, respectively, over Brooklyn and Denver this past weekend. Strange timing, unless…
The Pistons hired Cheeks this past off-season before Lionel Hollins was cut loose by Memphis despite three straight playoff trips. When that happened, Detroit tried to lure Hollins as an assistant, but he wasn’t interested.
Making the move this early means the Pistons will have no competition for his services. It’s a head coaching job and I’ll bet Hollins is interested now.
■ In Cleveland, the only raised eyebrows over the firing of Cavs’ general manager Chris Grant were from those who wondered how coach Mike Brown survived. (A bigger question perhaps is why Brown was hired for a second tour of duty in the first place.)
In Detroit, the coach is fired and more than a few wonder why Teflon Joe Dumars is allowed to carry on as GM.
Two lousy franchises suffering from diminished interest.
■ Cheyenne Woods, 23, won her first big pro golf tournament over the weekend at the Australian Ladies Masters. She’s having a better year than Uncle Tiger.
■ Pitchers and catchers report to spring training this week, meaning we’ll get our first look at closer Joe Nathan in a Tigers’ uniform. Missing from the Detroit bullpen will be Joaquin Benoit (now with San Diego) and Drew Smyly, who is headed for the starting rotation.
They were a combined 10-1 with 26 saves in 2013 and the Tigers were 82-6 when leading after eight innings. Not awful.
■ A leftover from the Tom Runnells interview that resulted in Sunday’s column: The Colorado Rockies bench coach, who lives in Sylvania, offers private lessons to amateur baseball players during the off-season, using the indoor facilities at Fifth Third Field. The payback?
A large percentage of his profit goes back to the Mud Hens to pay for “Knothole Gang” memberships for kids who might otherwise be unable to afford a game ticket and a hot dog.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.
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