Titans Introduce Ken Whisenhunt As New Head Coach
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Titans have officially introduced Ken Whisenhunt as the team's new head coach.
The Titans introduced Whisenhunt during a news conference Tuesday at St. Thomas Sports Park as their 17th head coach and only their third different coach since moving to Tennessee.
During his introduction, Whisenhunt told the media he was excited to be back in Nashville and looking forward getting to work.
Whisenhunt said he hit it off quickly with general manager Ruston Webster. He also had interest from Detroit and Cleveland.
General manager, Ruston Webster added that it was time to "change the culture" for football in Nashville for one common goal: to win a championship.
Webster said it was a fast and furious process picking a new coach after parting with Mike Munchak on January 4.
Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith called it a big day when the hire was announced Monday.
"Ken is a well-respected coach in this league and I am looking forward to seeing his vision become reality for this team," Smith said in a statement. "He has a history of building successful offenses and took Arizona to a Super Bowl as a head coach. We all share a common goal for this team and that is to build a consistent winner."
The 51-year-old was in his first season as the offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers.
The Titans flew to San Diego on Friday and interviewed Whisenhunt, who started his coaching career in Nashville at Vanderbilt. He was the fourth person interviewed by the Titans.
Smith thanked general manager Ruston Webster for overseeing only the second coaching search by this franchise since moving to Tennessee in 1997. Webster said Whisenhunt's intelligence, track record with quality offenses and success as a head coach stand out to him most.
"I really enjoyed our meeting on Friday night in San Diego, and we share similar philosophies about the game," Webster said.
"Additionally, we have several mutual colleagues that have spoken highly to me about Ken both as a coach and as a person. I am excited about Ken joining us and the future of the Titans."
Whisenhunt spent six years coaching Arizona and took the Cardinals to their lone Super Bowl in 2009. He was fired Dec. 31, 2012, with a record of 45-51 in the regular season and 4-2 in the playoffs.
He interviewed with Cleveland twice last year before being hired as offensive coordinator in San Diego where he helped Philip Rivers and the Chargers to the playoffs.
Chargers rookie head coach Mike McCoy said earlier Monday before the Titans hired Whisenhunt that he didn't want to lose his coordinator but realized he might lose him after only a year.
"Ken has done an outstanding job here this year," McCoy said. "He is a big reason of why we got as far as we did, not only on the field, but behind the scenes with things that he did to help me."
Tight end Antonio Gates said Whisenhunt did a phenomenal job implementing a new offense in San Diego that put them in the best position possible.
"It was a privilege and a pleasure to be around a guy of that stature with the experience and winning Super Bowls, and then helping me grow as a player," Gates said.
Whisenhunt, a native of Augusta, Ga., played tight end at Georgia Tech and played 74 games in nine NFL seasons with Atlanta, Washington and the Jets.
He started coaching in Nashville as an assistant at Vanderbilt and also was offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh between 2004 and 2006. He also has coached at Baltimore, the Jets and Cleveland.
"I have a lot of respect for Ken as a coach and as an offensive mind," said Titans General Manager Ruston Webster. "The traits that stand out to me when identifying him as our next coach – he is intelligent, has a track record with quality offenses and head coaching success. I really enjoyed our meeting on Friday night in San Diego and we share similar philosophies about the game. Additionally, we have several mutual colleagues that have spoken highly to me about Ken both as a coach and as a person. I am excited about Ken joining us and the future of the Titans."
The Titans were the last NFL team to fire a head coach, and this hiring leaves Minnesota, Detroit and Cleveland still looking for a head coach. They also interviewed Jay Gruden, who was hired Thursday as Washington's new coach and Baltimore offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.
Tennessee parted with Munchak after going 7-9 this past season and missing the playoffs for the fifth straight season. This franchise has not won a postseason game since January 2003. But Tennessee ranks eighth in the NFL for the best winning percentage in the league since 1999 with a record of 131-108.
Whisenhunt takes over a team with major questions about quarterback Jake Locker. He threw for six touchdowns with no interceptions and a passer rating of 99 that was third in the AFC behind only Peyton Manning and Rivers through four games before getting hurt. Locker has missed 14 of a possible 32 starts since being selected the starter.
Once news broke of the hire Monday evening, phone lines on Sports Night on 102.5 the Game lit up.
"A lot of people are going to have a lot of questions whose going to be in charge of the defense, I think its pretty safe to say Ken Whisenhunt will run the offense. What are his ideas to bring out a lot more in the personnel they have on the offensive side of the ball and what does he plan to do with Jake Locker and Chris Johnson?" said radio host Willy Daunic.
Whisenhunt is 51 years old and originally from Augusta, Georgia. He and his wife, Alice, have two children – son, Kenneth, and daughter, Mary Ashley.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)