Berea, OH (WGR 550) -- Lasting 25 days, the Cleveland Browns took the longest of any team in the National Football League to hire their new head coach. If they waited much longer to hire Mike Pettine away from the Buffalo Bills, they might have had to restart the search once again.
Speaking with WGR Sports Radio 550 in a one-on-one following his introductory press conference as the Browns head coach, Pettine expressed remorse for how long it was taking and the fact that it was putting the Bills a bit behind the eight-ball.
"That was starting to wear on me these last couple of days," Buffalo's former defensive coordinator said. "I talked to Doug [Marrone] and it was getting to the point where I'd say, 'Hey, if this goes on much longer I need to pull out because it's just not fair to the Bills.'"
The Browns didn't approach Pettine until about two to two-and-a-half weeks into the process, meaning the coach was getting ready for life in Buffalo. The Bills continued to be supportive, even if the timing of the inquiry wasn't ideal for their purposes.
"They've been nothing but first class about this whole thing," Pettine said. "Russ Brandon especially, Doug Whaley and Doug Marrone. Just the way that they've handled it almost kind of talking to me saying 'Hey listen, you never know when you're gonna get this opportunity, so hang in there.'"
In fact, Marrone actually helped prepare Pettine not just for the head coach interview process but for the Browns themselves.
"Well he had interviewed with the Browns a year ago, so he was very familiar with how the interviews were structured and who I'd be meeting with and the questions that were being asked," he said. "He had researched the franchise. It was a situation where he had a lot of good information for me. It was very helpful."
Knowing that Pettine would be getting calls to be a head coach eventually, the Bills head coach took it upon himself to include his defensive coordinator in a lot of things that he didn't need to. Marrone prepared him for things to expect when he would become a head coach.
Even with all the excitement of potentially becoming a head coach in the NFL, a part of Pettine was torn. He was of the belief that what the Bills had done defensively in 2013 was the beginning of something big.
"It's truly bittersweet for me. I'm walking out of a defensive room away from some great players and some guys that I've bonded with and built some great relationships with," Pettine said. "The regret I have is unfinished business there. I think we were getting ready, that we had started something that was going to be special there, and I didn't get a chance to finish that. That to me, like I said, that's what makes today bittersweet for me."
But when an opportunity arose to be the head coach, he just couldn't say no.
"I was fully set on looking forward to next year with the Bills," Pettine remarked. "When this opportunity presented itself, I attacked it head on and was fortunate enough to land the job."
The Bills' search for a new defensive coordinator to replace the Browns new head coach is underway.