The coaching carousel began spinning Tuesday morning when current Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver (more on that in a bit) dismissed Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio was in his ninth season at the helm of the Jaguars, but Jacksonville’s 3-8 start forced the change. Del Rio’s career regular-season mark is 68-71 with a pair of playoff appearances in 2005 and 2007 (1-2 record), but no AFC South titles.
“I appreciate his nine years (as head coach), but we deserve better,” said Weaver at a Monday press conference. “The timing was awkward because of the other things we have to talk about today.”
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was named interim head coach by Weaver, and he will have an opportunity to interview for the job at the end of the season.
Tucker, 39, is in his third season with the Jaguars after being named defensive coordinator in January 2009, and seventh in the NFL after eight years on the college level. Tucker was part of the Cleveland Browns staff for four seasons (2005-08). His college experience was gained at Michigan State, Miami (Ohio), LSU and Ohio State.
GM Gene Smith was given a three-year contract extension by Weaver on Tuesday. The Jacksonville GM will lead the search for a new coach with Weaver and new ownership.
Weaver reached an agreement to sell the franchise to Shahid Khan, an Illinois businessman. The transaction is subject to NFL approval.
The NFL released a document outlining the procedure for transfer of majority or controlling ownership between sellers and buyers: NFL Club Ownership Seller and Buyer Procedures
Shahid Khan is a great American success story and he will be an outstanding owner for this franchise and for this community,” Weaver said. “I am excited for the team and for our great fans because Shahid will bring passion and commitment to the job. He is committed to restoring a winning tradition here in Jacksonville.”
“I am honored to have recently signed an agreement with Wayne Weaver and his partners to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Khan said in a Jaguars press release. “I have known Wayne for some time and have long admired his spirit, which nearly 20 years ago – against all odds – helped make the Jaguars and the National Football League a reality for Jacksonville and North Florida. Wayne’s legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne’s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community.”
According to the Jaguars release, Khan left his native Pakistan at age 16 in 1967 to attend the University of Illinois. He began working for Flex-N-Gate Corporation in 1970, while still an engineering student. Following his graduation from Illinois in 1971 with a degree in Industrial Engineering, he continued to work at Flex-N-Gate until 1978, when he left the company to start a new venture.
Helped by a Small Business Administration loan, he began a new business designing and manufacturing innovative lightweight, continuous metal bumper systems, with no seams to corrode or rust. Today, nearly two-thirds of all North American pickup trucks and sport utilities have bumper systems based on Khan’s designs and are manufactured and supplied by a Flex-N-Gate company.
Khan purchased the original Flex-N-Gate company in 1980. The Flex-N-Gate Group today employs more than 10,000 people at 48 plants in the US, Canada, Mexico, Spain and Argentina, with annual sales exceeding $3 billion.
TWO FOR SUH: Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was suspended two games by the NFL for his stomp of Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith during last Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field.
According to ESPN, Suh will miss Sunday night’s game at New Orleans and a home game against Minnesota on Dec. 11. Suh was encouraged to appeal by the NFLPA and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who Suh called on Monday to discuss the incident. Suh did appeal on Tuesday, and his hearing will be expedited.
The appeal will be heard by former NFL player and head coach Art Shell, who will decide whether the two-game ban will stand or be reduced to one game.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, in an radio interview Tuesday reported by DetroitLions.com, said, “Everybody is responsible for their actions and accountable for it. The league has decided to suspend him two games, and that’s something we have to deal with and we have to live with. We have to find a way to get past it.”
WEEK 13 PLAYOFF SCENARIOS: Just as with Week 12, only two teams – Green Bay and San Francisco – can clinch playoff spots this weekend.
Green Bay (11-0) can clinch the NFC North title three ways:
A Packers win over the New York Giants and a Detroit loss or tie to New Orleans OR
A Packers tie, a Chicago loss or tie to Kansas City and a Detroit loss OR
A Bears loss and a Detroit loss
The Packers can clinch a NFC playoff berth in one of six ways:
A Green Bay victory OR
A Green Bay tie, a Chicago loss or tie OR
A Chicago loss OR
An Atlanta loss to Houston OR
A Detroit loss OR
A New Orleans loss and an Atlanta tie
San Francisco (9-2) can clinch the NFC West title two ways:
A 49ers victory or tie over St. Louis OR
A Seattle loss or tie to Philadelphia and an Arizona loss or tie to Dallas