View Full Version : Mularkey resigns as Bills' head coach

01-13-2006, 01:44 AM

By Len Pasquarelli

Nearly every NFL offseason includes at least one unexpected head coach departure, and on Thursday afternoon, the Buffalo Bills' Mike Mularkey provided the surprise factor for this year's cycle of firings and hirings.

In a lengthy meeting with Bills management, Mularkey stunned owner Ralph Wilson and newly appointed general manager Marv Levy by tendering his resignation after only two seasons on the job, ESPN.com confirmed. His departure will be confirmed by the Bills at a Friday news conference scheduled for 11 a.m. ET.

Team officials declined comment on Thursday evening.

Sources close to Mularkey said Thursday night that he has already left Buffalo. Wilson and Levy were said to have been taken aback when Mularkey contacted them Wednesday and acknowledged he was mulling his resignation.

News that Mularkey had entered the meeting with Wilson and Levy intent on resigning was first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen and by ESPN.com. It was believed there was some chance the that Buffalo brass might be able to persuade Mularkey to stay on, especially when the parties briefly adjourned without the coaching having officially quit, but that was not the case.

Mularkey informed some members of his staff earlier in the day that, after considerable deliberation, he had decided to leave the job. When the session with Wilson and Levy ended just before 6 p.m., Mularkey reaffirmed that stance to some confidants and said his farewells to some office staffers still in the building.

"It's mind boggling," Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes said on ESPN Radio. "I don't really understand what's goin' on but I thought he did some things well and there were a lot of things a lot of the guys didn't agree with. I don't think that he was a bad coach.

"When you come into the city of Buffalo people expect you to win not later, not two or three years from now, people want you to win now. So it's a lot of pressure. As a man I will always respect him because of his position and how he treated us as a whole."

He leaves the job with three years, at about $1 million annually, remaining on the five-year contract he signed in 2004. In his two seasons, Mularkey compiled a 14-18 record, including a disappointing 5-11 mark in 2005, when many pundits expected the Bills to contend for a playoff berth.

Sources said that, while family considerations played a large role in Mularkey's decision, his views on the future of the franchise were also a significant factor. Since the end to a dismal season, the Buffalo organization has undergone a quick overhaul, and people in the NFL have questioned the Bills' direction.

A source close to Mularkey told ESPN.com's John Clayton the primary reason for Mularkey's resignation was professional. According to the source, Mularkey didn't think the way the Bills were being set up would create an environment in which he could be successful.

Wilson fired team president/general manager Tom Donahoe; re-hired Levy, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Bills to four Super Bowl appearances; and made other changes to the front office. It is believed that Wilson also suggested, but did not mandate, changes in the coaching staff. Mularkey subsequently dismissed five assistants.

One example of how bizarre things are for the Bills franchise right now: The club this week received permission to interview Atlanta Falcons secondary coach Brett Maxie for the defensive coordinator job. But Jerry Gray, the incumbent coordinator, has yet to be dismissed, in part because he is interviewing for head coach vacancies elsewhere.

In the wake of Donahoe's dismissal, Mularkey, 44, had become the new target for fans critical of the team's direction. Friends of Mularkey said he was deeply affected by the firing of Donahoe and that this season exacted a physical and mental toll.

Mularkey played nine seasons in the league as a tight end and was an assistant coach for 10 years, much of that as an offensive coordinator, before succeeding Gregg Williams as the Bills' head coach in 2004.

Among the names already speculated as possible replacements for Mularkey are former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett, recently fired Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and current Bills special teams coach Bobby April. Haslett and Cottrell served on Buffalo coaching staffs in the past. Haslett has strong ties to Bills assistant general manager Tom Modrak and some current and past players have already begun lobbying for Cottrell to be interviewed. April was the league's special teams coach of the year in 2004, is popular with players, and is seeking a head coach position.

Although he may merit support in some quarters, there is little chance that Levy, who compiled a 123-78 record as Bills coach 1986-1997, will be considered as a possible Mularkey successor. There were some whispers last week, when Mularkey's status was uncertain, that Levy could return to the sideline, but Wilson seems to regard him more as a much-needed front office confidant now.

ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and ESPN's Chris Mortensen contributed to the report. Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

01-13-2006, 03:04 AM
Me wonders if Mularkey saw the inevitable "Bring back Levy" coming and decided to get out now.

01-13-2006, 08:55 AM
The question everyone here (Buffalo) is asking: Why didn't he resign last week when he met with Wilson? The family considerayions and professional reasons were apparent then as well. I think, and others do as well, the Mike realized in the past week that it will be impossible to put together a staff he wants and operate under Marv's shadow.

Good man, not so good a coach. I wish him well, but hope he stays away from PIttsburgh (professionally speaking).

FWIW, Bobby April is interviewing today and I think he has a real chance at the job.

Chip R
01-13-2006, 09:40 AM
Me wonders if Mularkey saw the inevitable "Bring back Levy" coming and decided to get out now.

I was listening to the radio yesterday and it might have been Mel Kiper, Jr. or someone else but he said that he thinks the next coach of the Bills is going to be Levy.

01-13-2006, 10:47 AM
Would Levy be the first 80-year-old head coach in NFL history?

FWIW, I think it would be a mistake. The past is the past. Move on.

01-13-2006, 01:20 PM
I dont think you will see Levy on the sidelines:


Ralph Wilson Announces Mularkey's Resignation
WGR Newsroom - Friday, January 13, 2006 - 11:05 AM

Mike Mularkey was not present at One Bills Drive when Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. stepped to the podium to reveal his head coach's resignation. He suggested that Mularkey was affected by the criticism of the team.

In his opening remarks, he stated that "I can't control the media or fans that come to the stadium. With so much media today, Internet, call in shows, press television satellite, there is goign to be so many different opinions on everything. You can't control them. We are doing the best we can. So now, we are going to go forward and look for a new head coach. We're going to conduct an extensive search - and we haven't even started yet."

The Bills owner also said that he did not know how much his coaches and players were being paid because he had given Tom Donahoe all power over football operations.

General Manager Marv Levy addressed the criticism issue as well, by saying that the best way to stiffle criticism, is to win. Levy said that he would move quickly to retain any assistant coaches the organization wanted to keep. When asked about returning to the sidelines, Levy ruled out all possibilities, and said he would concentrate on finding the new head coach, and not impose any of his ideas on him. Marv also gave advice to the coach when he arrives in town to aleve pressure: "When you win, take your family out to dinner."

Well I have to agree with Marv, best way to avoid the critics is to win...message to new Reds owners...

01-13-2006, 01:26 PM
You know how old Marv Levy is? He's 206.

01-13-2006, 08:04 PM
If I were an NFL head coaching prospect I wouldn't go near the job, Levy will have it in the end.