The lasting image that Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has of Romeo Crennel is from a photograph taken in the mid-1970s. Crennel, then an assistant coach at Texas Tech, wore a bushy mustache and a big smile while he posed with the young daughter of colleague Bill Parcells.
The Chiefs conducted a thorough search for a new head coach since Todd Haley was relieved of his coaching duties last month. Over a half-dozen candidates formally interviewed for the job, but it became clear Crennel was the right choice moving forward.
“This needed to be a thorough process and I think one of the things RAC (Romeo Crennel’s nickname) said at the time was, ‘I want you to go out and talk to other people because if you make this decision I want you to know that you are making the right decision,’” Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli said. “I wouldn’t say that it was a foregone conclusion.”
“There are a lot of reasons that this is the right hire,” Pioli said. “Continuity and consistency … having things like that in place really do add to the likelihood of success. Anytime you can create or have consistency, especially when you believe that things are headed in the right direction … that’s a positive.
“I’ve known Romeo for quite some time and understand and know what he is and who he is and what he represents. He’s got a great football mind. He’s got a great deal of integrity. He certainly knows who to get the troops motivated, to say the least. He is someone that knows how to create a great deal of energy, emotion and respect among the players.”
“Any time you sit in the head coaching seat, you gain a tremendous amount of experience, so that experience that I’ve gained from my last situation I think will benefit me tremendously in this situation. I think here at the Chiefs, they have a good history. We have good ownership, we have a plan in place that we plan to work and improve, so I’m going to use all of those experiences that I had in the past to try to be the best that I can be, which will allow the Chiefs to be the best that they can be.”
The Chiefs announced Monday that Crennel was the official replacement for the fired Todd Haley, removing the interim tag he bore for the last three weeks of the season.
“The three games had a lot to do with where we arrived at this decision,” general manager Scott Pioli said. “Some of the things we saw was a great deal of accountability and consistency. There was also a different energy to the football team. A lot of it had to do with those last three games.”
So what is a “players’ coach”? And can Crennel, a grandfather of eight, succeed in Kansas City with the touch of a feather and not a hammer?
“It depends on what you mean by a players’ coach,” said Chiefs defensive end Wallace Gilberry. “If you’re saying it’s the kind of guy the players get up for and want to play well for them, then yes he can.