CLEVELAND (AP) — Marc Trestman’s coaching odyssey, which drifted across the NFL map and into Canada, could bring him back to the Browns.
A person familiar with the situation said the Browns interviewed Trestman, the current coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes and a former assistant with Cleveland, for their head coaching vacancy on Tuesday.
Trestman interviewed with the Chicago Bears for eight hours Monday night and arrived at the Browns’ facility in suburban Berea late Tuesday morning, said the person who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search. He is the fifth known candidate to interview with the Browns, seeking their sixth fulltime coach since 1999 after firing Pat Shurmur last week.
Trestman was the Browns’ quarterbacks coach in 1988 and their offensive coordinator in 1989, when Cleveland appeared in its third AFC title game in four years with quarterback Bernie Kosar. Trestman has extensive background as an NFL assistant, working with eight teams, most recently Miami in 2004.
Trestman has spent the past five seasons with Montreal, leading the Alouettes to two Grey Cup titles. The 56-year-old is under contract through 2016, but the club will allow him to leave for an NFL job if he’s offered.
He has worked as an offensive coordinator with San Francisco, Arizona and Oakland. The Raiders went to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season in the offense Trestman geared for QB Rich Gannon.
In recent years, Trestman has worked as a consultant in the NFL and in the offseason helped develop young quarterbacks, including Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden, whose future with the Browns will be determined by the club’s next coach.
“Marc is an extremely knowledgeable football mind and with his obvious success everywhere he has been proves that he knows how to develop and teach quarterbacks,” Weeden said in a testimonial on Trestman’s website.
The Browns are not commenting on any of their interviews or candidates.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are in the second week of their search. They’ve interviewed several coaching candidates and are expected to meet with more this week. Trestman’s interview was the first to take place in Cleveland.
Haslam and Banner are expected to interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in the next few days. Arians, who like Trestman previously worked in Cleveland, was released from a Baltimore hospital on Monday after he became ill before the Colts’ 24-9 playoff loss to the Ravens. ESPN reported Tuesday night that Arians was in an Indianapolis hospital for treatment of an inner infection.
Arians was the Browns’ offensive coordinator under Butch Davis from 2001-03. Arians, too, has had success working with young quarterbacks. He helped groom Ben Roethlisberger into a Super Bowl winner with Pittsburgh, and this season mentored rookie Andrew Luck as the Colts went on a surprising run to the postseason.
It’s not known if the Browns have received permission to speak with Arians.
Haslam and Banner conducted several interviews last week in Arizona. They spent the most significant amount of time with Chip Kelly, who after entertaining overtures from at least three teams decided to return to Oregon. The Browns also interviewed former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who was hired by Buffalo, and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien.
If the team was even thinking about contacting Nick Saban about their vacancy, Alabama’s coach made it clear the NFL is in his past — not his future.
With their search seeming to stall, the Browns may have considered calling Saban, who coached the Miami Dolphins for two years before taking over the Crimson Tide’s program. However, fresh off winning his third national title in four years, the 61-year-old Saban reiterated that he’s content at Alabama and outlined several reasons why he prefers to coach in college.
Saban worked as an assistant in Cleveland under Bill Belichick, and there has long been speculation he might one day return to the Browns. He did his best to end that discussion for good during a news conference the morning after Alabama’s 42-14 throttling of Notre Dame in the BCS title game.
Saban bristled while addressing speculation that he would take another turn in the pros.
“I didn’t feel like I could impact the team the same way that I can as a college coach in terms of affecting people’s lives personally, helping them develop careers by graduating from school, off the field, by helping develop them as football players,” Saban said. “And there’s a lot of self gratification in all that, all right?
“So I kind of learned through that experience that maybe this is where I belong, and I’m really happy and at peace with all that. 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.”
As soon as they hire the coach, Haslam and Banner will focus on bringing in a new general manager or player personnel director. GM Tom Heckert was fired last week.
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