The troika of Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, and Michael Lombardi seemed doomed from the beginning, and the shit finally hit the fan yesterday with the announcement that the CEO and GM are out. We'll be hearing more and more insidery stuff as the days and weeks go by, but here's one early nugget on how the relationship went south so quickly, and it involves franchise-killer Greg Schiano.
From The MMQB, Peter King reports in typical awkward, value-neutral fashion:
Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer were strong in recommendations for fired Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano—Belichick called twice—and here's where I hear there was a major rift in the organization. Banner wanted nothing to do with Schiano. Haslam was intrigued with him after the over-the-top recommendation from Belichick. The group flew to Tampa to interview Schiano, and one source said Banner was cold to Schiano, not participating much in the interview. Banner likely thought Schiano would be a disastrous hire, given all the negatives in recent Cleveland history. He was probably right, but the owner was open to it, and when the owner's open to it, the man running football operations should at least consider it.
Schiano, you'll remember, was a late and surprise entry into the endless coaching search, where the Browns saw themselves turned down by basically all their top choices. (The Plain Dealer lists three who took themselves out of the running because they didn't want to work under Banner and/or Lombardi.) The idea that Joe Banner is unemployed because he didn't want to hire Greg Schiano is just so very Browns.
Which makes you wonder why Haslam waited so long to pull the trigger on Banner, especially since the two appear to have clashed multiple times during the coaching hunt. The Plain Dealer says that Banner was high on Seahawks DC Dan Quinn, and wanted to wait until after the Super Bowl to try and bring him aboard; the paper implies that Haslam unilaterally hired Mike Pettine, a move Banner was against.
Lombardi had to go, and the Banner-Haslam relationship seems to have been getting increasingly toxic, so maybe the Browns are in a better place now. Or maybe this is a never-ending mess, and firing a head coach after one year and a GM a month after the season ends means you end up with a seventh-choice coach and a GM who had no hand in his hiring and an owner who's already shown a proclivity for cleaning house when he doesn't get his way.