Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti surprisingly fires coach Brian Billick after nine seasons and a Super Bowl victory. The decision comes 18 days after a high-ranking team official told The Sun that Bisciotti had informed Billick he would return. "I believed that it was time for a change," a visibly upset Bisciotti says. "I believe we have the nucleus of a team that can get back to the Super Bowl. We felt that in the next five years that we had a better chance with a new coach than leaving Brian in that position." The dismissal comes a day after Billick finished a 5-11 season, the worst record in his run as Ravens coach. Because Billick was fired one season after being signed to a new four-year contract, the Ravens owe him $15 million over the next three years.
The Ravens' search committee engages in its first meeting, which lasts the entire day. The meetings are attended by Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty, director of college scouting Eric DeCosta, director of pro personnel George Kokinis, assistant director of pro personnel Vince Newsome and senior vice president of public relations Kevin Byrne.
The Ravens request permission to speak to four NFL assistants whose teams are in the playoffs: Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and assistant head coach Tony Sparano, Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels says he is not interested in pursuing head coaching jobs this year. McDaniels, though, wasn't believed to be at the top of the Ravens' list. The Ravens request permission to talk to Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
The Ravens interview their first candidate, Caldwell. Most teams seeking head coaches traveled to meet the assistants still in the playoffs. But the Ravens fly their candidates to their $32 million, state-of-the-art team headquarters. Also, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, a respected assistant during his time with the Ravens, withdraws his name from consideration. "I've got a great job here, and with that being said, I'm sure Baltimore will get a top-notch coach," Ferentz says.
The Ravens meet with Garrett and Sparano. Garrett is widely considered the front-runner for the Ravens' job, while Sparano has been linked to the Miami Dolphins' vacancy.
The Ravens interview their only in-house candidate, meeting with recently fired defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. He arrives for his meeting by parking in the head coach's parking space at the team headquarters. Chudzinski cancels his trip to meet the Ravens after receiving a contract extension from the Browns.
New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the son of Marty Schottenheimer, meets with Ravens officials. His offense finished 25th in 2006 and 26th this season. Schottenheimer declines to stop and talk to reporters, saying only, "I had a great day" as he walks across the darkened parking lot.
Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach John Harbaugh becomes the sixth candidate to interview for the Ravens' job, but he is the first who is neither a coordinator nor an assistant head coach. "I don't think there's any one way to prepare to be a head coach," Harbaugh says. "[Eagles coach] Andy Reid was never a coordinator before he became a head coach, and he's one of the best in the league."