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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kevin Hickey

Jim Irsay has final say in Colts head coach search

The Indianapolis Colts have begun their process of finding a new head coach and while general manager Chris Ballard will lead the way, the decision ultimately comes down to owner Jim Irsay.

During his end-of-season presser Tuesday, Ballard confirmed that he will be the one to lead the search. That means we can expect a plethora of different candidates. However, Irsay having the final say means we shouldn’t be surprised by an unexpected hire.

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“I’ll lead the search. Ultimately, Mr. Irsay makes the final call. There’s 32 teams, 32 owners. They own the team. We give him, here’s our thoughts, and Mr. Irsay is a good listener,” Ballard said. “Ultimately, he’ll make the final call but he will lean heavily on our work and what we do to get the coaching candidates in place.”

With Irsay making the final call, that certainly means interim head coach Jeff Saturday will be in the running. He could even be a finalist. It wouldn’t shock many if he winds up getting the job, considering the unprecedented move to hire him in the first place.

But Ballard leading the search also means the Colts will get a diverse group of candidates coming in to interview.

The process will be worth monitoring over the course of the next month or so. The Colts can begin interviewing some of the candidates virtually Tuesday. Others may have to wait longer (Jan. 17) if they are part of postseason teams competing in the wild-card games.

The process will take as long as it takes. Sometimes team find their coach right away. It could take longer. Ballard made it clear they won’t start the process with the end in mind.

“So, I’m going to tell you what I have learned. One – don’t start with an end in mind. It’s big,” Ballard said. “A lot of times what happens is you get a vision of what you want before – you’ve made your mind up and then you might ignore somebody that’s really freaking good right in front of your face.”

A prime example of that would be when the Colts hired Josh McDaniels during the 2018 offseason. It led to him spurning the organization, but it also led to Frank Reich becoming the head coach when it was all said and done.

Following that process and letting it play out will be crucial for the Colts this offseason.

“We’ve got a very detailed process put together on the traits and attributes we’re looking for in the head coach,” Ballard said. “Don’t care which side of the ball. And then to be patient and take your time and make sure we have a thorough interview with everybody. Consistent, thorough – I don’t care if it takes until mid-February to hire the head coach. It’s about getting it right.”

The Colts have already requested a number of interviews with coaches on other staffs around the league, and the list is only expected to grow at this point.

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