Jan. 15, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Former Georgetown University football player Jim Schwartz will be named the football coach for the National Football League's Detroit Lions in a press conference at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday at noon. Schwartz, 42, was one of two finalists the Lions revealed to the media earlier this week and he has been serving as the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans for the last eight seasons.
"After an extensive search that included several highly qualified coaches, we are thrilled that Jim Schwartz will become our team's head coach," president Tom Lewand said in a released statement. "Martin (Mayhew) and I believe that Jim's qualifications and vision will lead this organization on the field toward our goal of becoming a championship football team."
Schwartz was hired by Lewand and Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew, himself a Georgetown law graduate.
The chance to lead an infamous team only seemed to motivate Schwartz to get the job. "I don't shy away from a challenge," he said during a news conference earlier this week. Detroit interviewed Schwartz after the regular season and had to wait for Tennessee to be eliminated from the playoffs to speak with him again. The Titans lost to Baltimore on Saturday.
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher congratulated the Lions for hiring the "right guy" and said in a released statement that Schwartz will be missed in Tennessee.
"In his eight years as our defensive coordinator, Jim has clearly put his stamp on that side of the ball," Fisher said. "He is competitive, a tremendous communicator and motivator, and in our opinion, he has been ready for this next step for several years."
Schwartz, a Baltimore native, played linebacker at Georgetown under the late Scotty Glacken from 1985-88. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Maryland in 1989, later had the same position at Minnesota and went on to become a secondary coach for North Carolina Central and linebackers coach at Colgate.
Schwartz has an economics degree from Georgetown. He is an avid chess player who uses a lot of statistical analysis in his preparation. He said he believes in building teams to run the ball and stop the run.
He got his start as a college and pro scout in Cleveland, working with executive Scott Pioli and coach Bill Belichick. After three years with the Browns, Schwartz spent three years as a defensive assistant with Baltimore. Then he moved up the ladder in Tennessee -- defensive assistant in 1999, linebackers coach in 2000, defensive coordinator the past eight seasons.
Though Miami and Atlanta went 11-5 this year, after going 1-15 and 4-12, respectively, last year, Schwartz said he wouldn't look too far ahead. "I think if you talk about a quick turnaround, it's probably not going to happen," Schwartz said. "If you talk about getting better every single day, then you have a chance to be there."
But he said he isn't afraid of taking over a team coming off the NFL's first 0-16 season. The Lions are 31-97 since 2001.
"I don't shy away from a challenge, and I think that it's important in the NFL to have that kind of attitude on yearly basis," Schwartz said. "Where we were in Tennessee last year was not where we were a few years ago, and one of the best feelings in sports is turning something around. Obviously, the system in the NFL affords us the capability of turning something around.
Information in this story courtesy John Reagan of Hoya Saxa.com, and from the Associated Press.