General Manager Tom Telesco
What impressed you about Mike McCoy?
“He was very polished. We went through the interview process in Indianapolis last year, so I’ve been through this a couple of times before. He was one of the most polished first-time head coaching candidates I’ve ever seen.”
Did he blow you away in the interview?
“I’ll tell you what, we took a break at some point during the interview and I turned to John Spanos and said, ‘Wow’. That was the first thing that came into my head. I thought that he would be good, but he just had a plan and a process for everything. He was very firm with what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it. It seemed like it clicked right away.”
Were there sounding board people you talked to who gave you ideas about him?
“Yeah, in this league if you’re around long enough, you kind of get some common denominators. So I reached out to a good amount of people who worked with him and knew him well. But I didn’t have a relationship with Mike before this. I’ve known a lot about him and I loved his body of work, so I reached out to a lot of different people on all different levels and everything came back well.”
What impressed you most about Carolina and Denver and what Mike did with quarterbacks and accomplishments with adversity?
“He just adapted to everything that he had. Look at the different quarterbacks that he had in Denver. He had Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning. So it was three different style quarterbacks. And he got great production out of all three, so his thought is that you take what you have, work to your strengths—especially when you’re starting off early like we’re starting here—you can’t flip over a roster in one year. But he’s a great person who works with strengths and weaknesses.”
Has there been any dialogue about keeping a lot of the coaches, especially on the defensive side with all that they’ve accomplished, or is it open to debate?
“It’s open to debate. We’ll discuss it. It’s his call on the coaching staff. I’ll give him my thoughts and advice on it. Right after this, we’re going go in and kind of go through the staff to get that going as soon as possible.”
Why did you settle on Mike McCoy, a candidate who has no head coaching experience?
“Like I said before, some people come into an interview prepared for the interview. But he was prepared for the job. The interview almost turned into just a dialogue back and forth about how he was going to do things. But he just has a great plan to put in place and he knows how he wants to do it. He kind of hit all the factors that we were looking for. He’s a leader of men. He was a quarterback in college. You could kind of see the toughness in his eyes when he talked to us. He’s a teacher who can communicate with all different backgrounds of players and all different levels of experience. He’s a motivator as a coach who can get guys to play their best at critical times. Those are the kinds of things that we were looking for and it just started to come out naturally.”
Did you feel that you had to move quickly with the candidates you had to talk to?
“It worked out. We had talked to four or five guys prior. Mike was a guy I really had high on my list, obviously they (Denver) were still in the playoffs. But once he came in and once we saw how good he was, we just felt that we had to act now and that we had to get it done or else we would lose him.”
Did you see some of yourself in Mike McCoy when you interviewed him?
“He was really good, but no (laughing). Like I said, he was polished, prepared and he had great questions. He had a lot of questions for us, because it’s a partnership between a GM and a head coach. We spend more time with each other during the season than our families, so it’s got to be a close relationship. When he came in, after a little bit of time we could tell that he was the right guy for us.”
Because he comes from Denver, do you expect to beat the Broncos every time that you play them?
“He may have a little bit of insight on them, but of course they have insight on him too.”
Were you rooting against the Broncos on Saturday so you would have a chance to interview him?
“I’m not going to answer that question (laughing).”
If the Broncos had won, would you guys have waited and kept your eye on him?
“I’ve had my eye on him for a while. It would have been a tough decision because we had some great candidates. It would have been tough because we could have won with a lot of them, but this was the guy we had targeted.”
Have you talked to Bruce Arians since you made the decision?
“Yes I did. I called him this morning. It was a tough phone call. I have so much respect for Bruce. He’s an excellent football coach and he’s going to be a good head coach in this league. He was a head coach for 12 games this year, so I was with him every day. I was honest with him and I told him that there were different situations and different fits, that right now this fit was a fit for Mike McCoy. And he understood.”
How long did it take you to realize that you were interviewing your last candidate?
“I’m not sure. We met for a long period of time, I didn’t really keep track of the hours. But we took a break at some point and I turned to John Spanos and I said, ‘Wow. This is the guy. We need to start really hammering him now.’”
What was it that made you say “wow”?
“He spoke the same language, especially with football philosophy. He seems to feel the same way that I feel, so that’s why I think the partnership is going to be perfect.”
How much input is he going to have in player personnel decisions?
“Like I said, it’s a partnership, so we’re joined at the hip all the way through this. We’re never going to sign a player, draft a player or cut a player without running it through him. We’re always going to run it though him. Ultimately, it’s my decision, but if you have two football people who have done their work, you have discussions and you never have arguments. You usually come to a conclusion and like Mike said, it’s an organizational decision once it’s come to that.”
A lot of people said that Mike McCoy was the guy everyone was after. Does that explain all the urgency?
“I can see why. There was an urgency to it because once you know you have the guy, this business is so competitive, we had to get it done. There was no doubt and it worked out well.”
Are you going to be on board with his decisions with the coaching staff or are those mutual decisions as well?
“It’s his final call on the coaching staff. It’s always that way with the head coach. He’ll get my advice. We’re going to sit down and we’re going to have to go through the staff, but we’ll get after it pretty quick now. There are some good people here that we want to talk to first and foremost, then we’ll go from there.”
Does this decision, which is your first as GM, make all this this real now and do you feel you can move forward now that this is off of your back?
“Exactly. The biggest decision you make is the head coach and that drives everything that you do. Now that that’s done, I can actually go home and get some clothes, come back here, work the Senior Bowl and start scouting the college players. Then after the Senior Bowl we’ll meet again and go over our roster. Mike and myself, we know this roster a little bit, but not as well as we should. We’ll meet on that. Then we can get on to football and building the team. We couldn’t do any of that until we got the head coach done.”
How similar are you philosophies when it comes to building an organization?
“He was speaking in the same language when I was talking to him. He’s a team culture guy. We want to put a team together, not a collection of players. You can draft and find guys left and right, but everybody has to fit. And that’s what his philosophy is and that’s why I know this is going to work well.”