INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chis Ballard showed up for a news conference Wednesday – just not the one he expected.
Instead of introducing Josh McDaniels, Ballard stood in front of reporters trying to explain why New England’s longtime offensive coordinator reneged on a deal he initially accepted.
But if Ballard’s disgust about losing his top choice wasn’t clear from the occasional glare or the strong pitch in his voice, he left no doubt with one parting shot.
“The rivalry is back on,” he said before leaving.
Conducting a coaching search in February isn’t what Ballard or Indy envisioned when Chuck Pagano was fired just hours after Indy completed a 4-12 season on Dec. 31.
Their other finalist, Mike Vrabel, has already taken the Tennessee job. Another top-tier candidate, Mike Nagy, has already been hired in Chicago. Baylor coach Matt Rhule, who also interviewed for the job, is back on campus getting ready for spring football. And it’s unclear where the Colts may turn next.
“We have a list of candidates, I’ve had them from the get-go,” Ballard said. “There are other guys we wanted to interview, but because of the playoffs, we weren’t able to.
“We’ll move forward with them and we will get the right leader for the Indianapolis Colts – one that believes what we believe and wants to go where we want to go. I’m very confident in this.”
McDaniels decision didn’t just leave the Colts in the lurch.
Three assistant coaches – Matt Eberflus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielmo – had already been hired in Indy.
Some believe McDaniels’ sudden change of heart was related to doubts about quarterback Andrew Luck’s health. He’s rehabbing from last January’s surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
Ballard didn’t bother asking McDaniels why he made the decision.