Browns have interest in Auburn’s Malzahn, Vanderbilt’s Franklin; could hire Schwartz as DC

malzahnCBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora has been a busy man today. He reports this evening that the Browns have interest surrounding two college head coaches in Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Malzahn’s Tigers are playing in the title game next week in his first season as head coach at Auburn. The 48-year-old was previously offensive coordinator there for three seasons, including the 2010 season when Cam Newton led the team to the National Championship. Malzahn’s specialty is an up-tempo no-huddle style of offense, about which he’s written a book. It would seem to be an attempt at capturing some of what they missed out on last offseason when Chip Kelly went from Oregon to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Franklin, 41, has been the head man at Vanderbilt for the past three seasons, taking them to bowl games in all three seasons when the school had never made back-to-back bowl appearances previously. He also has stops as offensive coordinator at Maryland and Kansas State as well as one season in the NFL as wide receivers coach in Green Bay in 2005. Interviewing Franklin would satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

La Canfora adds:

“It’s worth noting how well former Oregon coach Chip Kelly has performed in Philadelphia — Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien were top candidates in Cleveland a year ago — and how much that has resonated with the Browns, particularly with them now very much interested in some college candidates.

Furthermore, McDaniels, Malzahn, Franklin and Schwartz are all represented by agent Jimmy Sexton, a very powerful force in coaching circles who has strong ties to the Browns organization.”

Schwartz was the Lions’ head coach for the past four seasons, accruing a record of 29-47 with one playoff loss. Prior to that, he spent eight seasons as the Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator and was a personnel scout with the Browns from 1993-95. It’s interesting that the Browns would have a defensive coordinator already picked out. The front office stressed the importance of having experienced and well-respected coordinators for a first-time NFL head coach last season when they hired Chudzinski, so perhaps that would be a recurring theme if they dip into the college ranks. Schwartz is another 4-3 defensive guy, which would prompt the Browns’ fourth flip between a 3-4 and 4-3 defense since 2009.

The Browns have been reportedly interested in a large number of candidates, including Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. They fired coach Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night after just one 4-12 seasons.

(Photo: USATSI)

Related: Haslam and Banner’s media savvy couldn’t save them today

  • Paul

    What a joke. We thought we had it bad before these morons arrived. All I want for Christmas is Al Lerner. Didn’t think I would ever say that. Do these idiots have a plan? Seriously Joe, you got hosed over by Chip, let it go. I cannot wait for another switch to the 4-3. That should only take about 4 years to get the right personnel. Kruger, Mingo, who needs em. Its not like these guys were brought in by this regime or anything.

  • Jf

    Larry, Curly and Moe…….

  • Harv 21

    yeah, back to the 4-3 with Jim Schwartz. Good stuff, that. After using the #6 overall and tying up millions in guaranteed money to a prototype 3-4 guy like Kruger. You’re doing this wrong BanLardi; if you want to keep these players ON THEIR TOES now’s the time to bring in Lovie Smith and his Tampa 2 defense. They’ll never know what hit them, not even veterans who switch defensive schemes and coordinators every year like D’Qwell Jackson. Watch how hungry they are when they finally get that BanLardi is boss – you say jump they jump, you say sign they sign.

    I’m no Ray Horton fan but if they ask him for a show interview I hope he tells them to stick it. Imagine you’re a coaching lifer and hear your name mentioned as a HC candidate, but before you can even call your wife you read “this interview would satisfy the requirements of the Rooney Rule.” However well-intentioned, this little pro forma exercise has turned out to be both condescending and ineffective.

  • whosevelt

    “You say sign, they sign” — Luckily they never say it to the players they should say it to. D’Qwell, TJ, Haden, Mack, will all be gone. Semi-related: The very, very few people who think the Browns five+ pro bowlers support the idea that Chud could have done better forget that the regime’s first move was to fire the guy (Heckert) who drafted four of them (and the ensuing Banner/Lombardi moves have been borderline inconsequential.)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I thought going back to the 4-3 drafting a QB and RB were all distinct possibilities. But hey, it’s not the same old Cleveland Browns right?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Like I’ve said numerous times already I fully expect the next head coach to be either a college head coach or an assistant currently in the NFL. No way Banner is loosening his grip on power even if it means the team does better. Just like most of the other previous regimes it’s their way not the best way.

  • Banner’s three signature talent acquisitions were:

    A rush SAM linebacker (Kruger);
    A rush WILL linebacker (Mingo);
    A prototype 5-tech DE (Bryant).

    All are specifically built for the 3-4. None transition easily to 4-3 roles. They certainly were not acquired with a 4-3 in mind.

    NOW, here’s Banner yesterday:

    According to chief executive officer Joe Banner, the team would be open to the idea of allowing the coach to have a significant say in assembling the roster and even switching from the 3-4 defensive scheme, if necessary.

    “I don’t want to dictate anything to the head coach,” Banner said. “Obviously, there are some benefits to continuing something as basic as you playing a 3-4 or 4-3. But if we found somebody we thought was going to be a great head coach and we had to look at that, it wouldn’t rule the coach out.”

    I prefer the 4-3 and thought it was ridiculous to scrap what we had. But having stocked it for a 3-4 it’s absurd to junk the scheme now. For Banner to entertain a switch is … well it’s another built-in excuse for poor performance in 2014.

  • Scooter

    I’m at the brink of giving up hope on this franchise. I have no idea what the long term plan is, but does anyone?

  • Wow

    Prepare yourself for McDaniels and Schwartz coming here.

  • humboldt

    The official response from Berea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWtm2ojYX0M

  • Horace

    This has to be Lombardi who is leaking all of this info (Chud firing during the game, coaching candidates, josh gordon trade rumors,etc.) to his longtime buddy La Canfora, right? The one deal that came out of the blue with zero leaks was the richardson trade, which banner admitted to making without consulting lombardi.

    Regardless, this is a mess. Mcdaniels as a best case scenario, vandy coach in the running? Wtf. Just wait until we take manziel at #4. I haven’t been this collectively pessimistic about the browns, cavs, or indians in quite a few years.


    Malzahn would be a hell of a pull. He’s a great coach, and an offensive genius. Definitely going to be a highly sought after guy in the upcoming few years.

  • Rudy

    Which is another reason the Rooney Rule should go.

  • simond

    what i find interesting about all these rumors is that there arent any out of work coaches that have been to super bowls that are linked to the browns…


    (i’m not saying theyre the answer, but i would personally feel better with these guys than another nfl assistant)

    this feel like dejavu to anyone else?

  • @TheDeePagel

    “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.”

    – Benjamin Franklin.

    Go Browns.

  • Petefranklin

    Heckart drafted three of them

  • whosevelt

    It’s become pretty clear over the last few days that you are either crazy or Joe Banner’s wife. The smart thing for fans to do now is #ignorethebrowns until they show that they have a plan. (They clearly don’t, so this really means until someone else is in charge of the team.)

  • mgbode

    I don’t want to go back to the 4-3, but schwartz runs the wide-9, where bryant would fit well at DT (and he’s played DT in Oakland), mingo fits as the rush end. Not sure on Kruger though.

    And again, do not want another switch there.

  • @TheDeePagel


    Funny though how it is inconceivable to some on here, that just because a fan chooses to stand by his team even during the down times that it automatically makes him “crazy”.

    No. The real answer is I am just a fan who decides to be loyal to a team in hopes of times getting better. I don’t agree that it is smart to ignore them until they begin to win. I can’t turn it off and on like that. I realize you may have trouble understanding that position, but that’s what it is. We have something in common where we are both sick of the losing, but we are different because I won’t walk away and quit with plans of returning only when things are going good. I am on board for the entire ride…guess that’s just the kind of person/fan I am.

  • Wow

    This team hasn’t been respectable since the 90s. The rest of the league, media, and fans think the team is a joke. Gruden and Tirico even took a shot at them in the NCAA game. All we want is a respectable team.

  • Wow

    It’s happening Saturday.

  • Paul

    I agree with some of your thoughts but I personally don’t know how you can blindly put faith in a regime after they are ready to admit that their first decisions were a mistake. And how can they expect a fan base to have faith in their decision making when they don’t have faith themselves? This is just insane that they are ready to write off the 3-4 after investing a first round pick and their major free agent signing on OLBs that fit the 3-4. The only positive I see is it only took them a year to realize their mistakes, (although we will never know for sure) but do we honestly think Banner and Lombardi will pick the right coach and quarterback of the future?

  • left out

    spring training really can’t come soon enough

  • Wow

    Absolutely, Lombadi and him are buddies.

  • Bob

    Being to a super bowl isn’t the only (or even necessarily the best) measure. Mike Holmgren was to 2, won 1, and that turned out to be a disaster.


    They didn’t hire Holmgren to be coach, though, so it’s not really apples-to-apples.


    I don’t think it has to be as all-or-nothing as either:
    a) completely ignore them, or
    b) completely stand by them at all costs.

    It’s not like I’m going to root for another team, or stop watching the NFL (and the Browns) altogether. That said, I certainly don’t have to keep sending these fools my money by buying tickets every year; I’ve decided to stop doing that.

    As Craig and Scott Raab noted, the only thing that resonates with the FO/ownership of a sports franchise is the dollars, so I’m going to stop sending them mine until they demonstrate to me that they know what they’re doing.

    Also, I think it’s reasonable for me to continue watching this team on Sundays in the fall, but at the same time to stop paying so much damn attention to them. I don’t need to read article after article about who they’re interviewing (and yes, I get the irony considering where I’m posting this comment), and I’m certainly not going to sweat who they hire or what schematic changes they make. It literally does nothing but bring stress to my life to worry about it.

    It’s one thing to say, “Don’t leave; there will be good times… you just have to be patient,” and I’ll be watching the draft, and watching on Sundays, and if they go 9-7 next year I’ll tip my cap to them. But, until then, I’m not going to waste my time–and more importantly, my money–on these clowns until they show me something even resembling a plan for future success. Just closing your eyes and wishing real hard isn’t going to cut it anymore. The bloom is completely off the rose.

  • @TheDeePagel

    I get it, and honestly I sort of feel the same way…but I guess my stronger feeling is about what you mentioned about the positive in this.

    I’d rather them admit a mistake and try to fix it instead of thinking they made a mistake and letting it go on just because they don’t want to upset the fans, or have the media rip them apart.

    Wouldn’t that be the same thing as what DP says??? “Closing your eyes and wishing really hard.”

    They did not do this. Instead they are trying to fix it. It is frustrating on one hand, but on the other it inspires me as a fan that they are trying to fix it.

  • @TheDeePagel

    I guess the moving ruined me. The only time for me that the bloom was off the rose is when they moved and for four years trying to watch the NFL without them. They have been horrible since….but I saw what it was REALLY like when the bloom is off the rose, and as long as I see those beautiful orange helmets take the field on Sunday’s, there will always be a bloom to me. Things can get better obviously…..but at least they aren’t closing their eyes and wishing real hard that things will change…..they are doing something about it. I don’t like it….but at least they admit their mistake and are trying to fix it….that is better then being stubborn, knowing in their minds they made a mistake but lying to us and saying they are doing their best to win just because they don’t want to piss us off or look bad to the media.

    I can’t stop cheering them every step of the way, and I would be lying to myself if I said I would.


    I totally get it, man, and I’m not trying to say there’s a “right” way forward for each and every fan. We’re all going to deal with this team in our own way, and there really isn’t one right way or any wrong ways. Every fan has their own breaking point, if you will.

    I will admit to wondering, however, if my sports life would have been better if the Browns had never come back. I almost feel like I’d have gotten over it and moved on by now, as opposed to having recommitted and wasted so many Sundays of my life over the last 14 years.

    Like, if we could all go back to 1999 and say, “look, they’re going to have only two winning seasons and ONE playoff game, plus six front offices and seven head coaches over the next 15 years. Are you SURE you still want this?” I don’t know what my answer would have been.

  • Wow

    A good offseason will bring a lot of faith back.

  • @TheDeePagel

    I believe it was the way I was raised….watching them in my basement with the entire family was an event….wins were higher than high, and lows were awful….but no matter what happened, every Saturday night leading into Sunday morning was a LOT of fun….like butterflies in the stomach fun. They are great memories for me as a kid. Now that I’m much older that same feeling sticks with me. I would never wish them gone, or want them gone. Those four years were terrible.

  • Garry_Owen

    Your boy loves his daddy and will love what his daddy loves. Don’t worry. That’s the only connection you need.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If not for Gordon this would probably be the highlight of the season. I’m sure people were confused when they heard the word “championship” too.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’ve always been a 4-3 guy as well. Instead of trying to be like Pittsburgh and Baltimore where those teams have successfully run those defenses for years they should have used the personnel in place and built accordingly.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    May the Schwartz be with you! This team can’t have enough of them.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    He has no credibility that’s the biggest problem. He speaks out against the criticism of this franchise but yet does the complete opposite and cheerleads everything they do.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    The Voice of Truth and Reason – Les Levine on line 2 DP! 😉

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Let your two year old develop his own likes and dislikes don’t be the hockey dad who forces his onto his children.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    All anyone wants is respectability and competitiveness. Unfortunately based on what the new owner has done and how he’s defended it I’m afraid they just don’t get it. Instead of power plays where people have to do it “their way” so they can claim credit later they should be open to doing whatever it took to make this franchise better. Instead they do/say nothing but PR stuff when the product on the field stinks so bad there isn’t enough PR spray available to cover up the stench.


    I would never force anything onto my child as a means of my own vicarious living. That’s kind of what I was actually saying.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Good man DP you did read as reasonable.

  • Bob

    True, but I feel that it is not too greedy to ask for something more than an abject train wreck.

  • simond

    Walrus was actually in 3 superbowls… (2 with green bay and 1 with seattle)

  • Red Buttons

    Schwartz is a bum!!!!