Looking Back On The One-Year Anniversary Of The Colts Hiring Josh McDaniels


Looking Back On The One-Year Anniversary Of The Colts Hiring Josh McDaniels

Blog > Kevin's Corner > Colts Coverage > Looking Back On The One-Year Anniversary Of The Colts Hiring Josh McDaniels

Looking Back On The One-Year Anniversary Of The Colts Hiring Josh McDaniels

A look back on Josh McDaniels leaving the Colts at the altar on February 6, 2017. What happened on a day that changed the franchise forever?

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – The news broke at 10:58 AM on February 6, 2017:

Josh McDaniels had agreed to terms to be the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

At 4:14 PM that Tuesday afternoon, the Colts then announced an introductory press conference time for the following morning, when McDaniels would be introduced as the 20th head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

A little more than four hours later, at 8:33 PM, the Colts sent out a press release saying that McDaniels had informed them “he would not be joining our team.”

Shocking. Stunning. Snake-like.

The Patriots had punched the Colts in the gut again, albeit in a far different way.

Chris Ballard received the call from McDaniels a quarter past the 7:00 hour. Inside of draft meetings with his scouts, with the NFL Combine starting in less than 3 weeks, Ballard was informed that a call from McDaniels was waiting.

The call lasted around 5 minutes and Ballard didn’t need to hear any reasons for why his supposed head coach was now having a sudden change of heart.

“There was no persuasion,” Ballard said the next day, a day when the Colts were supposed to be having that introductory press conference. Instead, Ballard was in front of the media at the team’s facility, trying to explain what had just happened to the franchise.

“Let me make this clear, I want, and we want as an organization, a head coach that wants to be all in. We’ve got work to do. I’ve not once hid from that. We have work to do and I want somebody that’s 100 percent committed to partnering with us in getting that work done. Either you’re in or you’re out. I didn’t need the explanation.”

The previous 48-72 hours for Ballard had been spent with minimal focus on the game of football itself.

Ballard didn't watch the Super Bowl between the Patriots and Eagles, because he was still in a state of shock having received a call that Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson had been killed in an automobile accident in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The next few days were spent dealing with such a tragic event, never believing that his soon-to-be new head coach was about to bail on him.

In the weeks leading up to McDaniels eventually spurning the Colts, Ballard said he had no indication from McDaniels that there were any reservations about coming to Indianapolis. Remember, both Ballard and McDaniels shared the same agent, Bob LeMonte (Lemonte fired McDaniels as a client the next day).

“Unquestionably, we were disappointed and surprised,” Ballard said after the Colts had announced on Tuesday morning that McDaniels would be their head coach, with a Wednesday afternoon press conference coming.

“We had agreed to contract terms. We had an agreement in place. We had followed all the rules. We had two interviews, everything went very well. Very confident that we were going in the right direction, very confident going into Monday evening and Tuesday morning. As you can see, we had a plan in place because we made the announcement that Josh was going to be our head football coach. I got a call Tuesday evening that he was changing his mind and going in a different direction.”

Once Jim Irsay was informed, Ballard began talking to new candidates for an opening he already thought was filled.

During that time, Ballard headed down the hallway to inform the Colts three new assistant coaches that the organization would still be honoring their already signed contract. That trio was defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and defensive line coach Mike Phair.

While McDaniels now apologizes for how he handled saying no to the Colts, the embarrassment was there for Ballard and the Colts organization being left at the altar.

Ballard regrouped by listening to his owner and some pretty famous former horseshoes.

That led to a new list of candidates, and the eventual hiring of Frank Reich.

When Ballard walked out of the room for a press conference to try and restore some order to the Colts franchise, he ended with a drop the mic moment.

“The rivalry is back on,” is what Ballard echoed.

Well, after losing 38-24 to the Patriots in Week Five of the 2018 season, the Colts are still the little brother to the Patriots (as is the rest of the NFL after McDaniels and the Patriots just won their 6th Super Bowl in the last 18 years).

And Ballard, with Reich now coaching his team, knows the Colts need to do their part to try and make sure the Colts and Patriots become closer competitors on the playing field.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t get the rivalry here in town,” Ballard said last month about his early view of the Colts and Patriots. “I didn’t. I traded with them right away. Our working relationship had always been very good with New England. We trade Dwayne Allen and the sky is falling, ‘They traded with the Patriots!’ I’m like, ‘What’s the big deal? They are just like any other team in the league.’ And then we make the trade for Jacoby (Brissett). Then after the incident with (McDaniels) and seeing the passion that they have for the rivalry with New England, I got it. I got it. And I’m all in with the rivalry. Damn right.

“We’ve got to make it a rivalry. The rivalry is back on, but we have to make it a rivalry. They’ve been whipping our ass here for a while. We have to make it a rivalry.”

No regular season meeting will come between the Colts and Patriots in 2019.

But how about that potential playoff matchup we almost saw this January happening next year?

I think many here in Indianapolis would like that.

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