The Browns are seeking a strong, dynamic leader as they search for their 14th full-time head coach, and in the eyes of University of Akron defensive coordinator Chuck Amato, Marc Trestman fits the description.
Trestman, an author, quarterback whisperer and head coach of the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, also has intellectual horsepower that’s off the charts.
“He’s probably the smartest coach I’ve ever worked with,” Amato, a college football coach for more than 40 years, said Tuesday in a phone interview.
The Browns interviewed Trestman on Tuesday at their headquarters in Berea, a day after he met with the Chicago Bears, a league source confirmed for the Beacon Journal. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the Browns are not commenting on candidates or interviews until the search is complete. Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner fired coach Pat Shurmur and General Manager Tom Heckert on Dec. 31.
Trestman took control of the Alouettes in 2008 and led them to back-to-back Grey Cup championships in 2009 and 2010. He and Amato are good friends who worked together at North Carolina State University, where Amato was the head coach from 2000-06 and Trestman his offensive coordinator from 2005-06.
Trestman, 56, also has served as an assistant coach for several NFL teams, including the Browns. He became the Browns’ quarterbacks coach in 1988 and their offensive coordinator in 1989, when they advanced to the AFC Championship Game. Trestman coached quarterbacks at the University of Miami in 1983, when Bernie Kosar and the Hurricanes won a national championship. The two reunited in Cleveland.
Trestman also was an offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers (1995-96), Arizona Cardinals (1998-2000) and Oakland Raiders (2002-03). In Trestman’s West Coast offense, quarterback Rich Gannon won the league’s Most Valuable Player award during the 2002 season and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl.
“He knows a lot of people, he stays in contact with a lot of people and a lot of his friends are coaching in the NFL,” Amato said. “I think he could put together an outstanding staff that can teach and motivate players. He would obviously bring a very strong mind to the offense. He’s not afraid to stay with the times and [figure out] what works and doesn’t work. He’s proven he’s a winner on all levels.”
Trestman is also known for developing quarterbacks. Amato believes Trestman, who recruited Seattle Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson to N.C. State, could bring the best out of Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden. Trestman helped Weeden prepare for the draft before the Browns selected him 22nd overall last year.
“That’s his expertise, and he’s done that his whole life,” Amato said. “He mesmerized these young kids when he talked to them about every little thing that a quarterback’s got to do. He was very meticulous and very cerebral. Everything had to be perfect.”
The Browns are also expected to interview Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians this week. Arians, 60, is another former offensive coordinator of the Browns (2001-03).
Arians spent Sunday in a Baltimore hospital, was discharged Monday and went to a hospital Tuesday in Indianapolis for treatment of an inner-ear infection, ESPN reported. He is expected to be released today and eventually interview with the Browns, Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.
Last week, the Browns reportedly interviewed University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly, Penn State University coach Bill O’Brien, former Syracuse University coach Doug Marrone, former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The Browns reportedly came close to reaching a deal with Kelly, but he ultimately chose to stay at Oregon. O’Brien also decided to remain in the college ranks, and the Buffalo Bills hired Marrone.
Return to NFL?
University of Alabama coach Nick Saban attempted Tuesday to squash speculation that he’ll return to the NFL. Many wonder whether Saban, who went 15-17 while coaching the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06, could be lured to the Browns.
“I kind of learned through that experience [with the Dolphins] that maybe this is where I belong, and I’m really happy and at peace with all that,” Saban said during a news conference in Miami Gardens, Fla., less than 24 hours after winning his fourth national championship. “So no matter how many times I say that, y’all don’t believe it, so I don’t even know why I keep talking about it.”
Meanwhile, former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher told Newsday on Tuesday that he plans to return to coaching at some point.
Haslam is scheduled to speak at the Canton Regional Chamber’s 99th annual dinner Feb. 7 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. The event will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $88 for chamber members and $98 for non-members. Reservations are required. Visit www.cantonchamber.org or call 330-458-2070 to register. All registration payments must be received in advance, and reservations must be received by Feb. 4. … The Browns are keeping an eye on New York Jets assistant general manager Scott Cohen as they search for a personnel chief, Jason La Canfora of CBS reported.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj.