KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ The worst-kept secret in Kansas City is out in the open: Romeo Crennel is the new head coach of the Chiefs.
The 64-year-old Crennel seemed the obvious candidate from the time the Chiefs fired Todd Haley and made Crennel interim head coach. He won two of his three games as the interim coach with the victories coming against playoff teams from Green Bay and Denver.
"I've known Romeo for quite some time and understand and know what he is and who he is and what he represents," general manager Scott Pioli said at a news conference Monday. "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."
Pioli also said the three-game trial had much to do with the decision to hire Crennel.
"There was a great deal of accountability and consistency," he said. "There was a different energy from the football team."
Crennel had a 24-40 record as the head coach for Cleveland from 2005 through 2008. After taking a year off from football, he joined the Chiefs in 2010 as their defensive coordinator.
"This job is not always the easiest job to have," Crennel said. "I had one once before, and it didn't turn out like I wanted it to. I'm going to work very hard to try to make this one turn out the way I want it to.
"There is a good nucleus in that locker room. As I told the young men at the end of the season, I think they have some substance, some character to them. I think going forward we have an opportunity to develop and build a competitive team that will hopefully give us a chance to be on the championship track year in and year out."
The Chiefs interviewed at least a half-dozen other candidates for the position but never veered far from Crennel.
He made sense for the Chiefs for many reasons:
_Even in a seriously dysfunctional season, the Chiefs finished 7-9 and a game behind the other three teams in the AFC West. So they believe with a few tweaks they can win the division title next season. That being the case, continuity makes sense, and Crennel can provide it. The Chiefs can work on fixing their problems right away. They'll waste no time installing new offensive or defensive systems or having to learn about the current players. The Chiefs will need to hire a new offensive coordinator and some other assistants, but those moves can be relatively seamless by keeping Crennel in charge.
_Pioli and Crennel have a level of respect for one another that, as we learned when Haley was the coach, is necessary as long as Pioli is the general manager. These two have proven they can work together.
_The players wanted Crennel retained as the head coach. Crennel won't have to change any cultures or win over any factions in the locker room. That's already been done.