Thursday, Jan. 13 was hiring day in the NFL.
Though the bigger news nationally was hiring of former Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox by the Denver Broncos, all eyes in the Midwest were fixated on the city of Cleveland, where Browns president Mike Holmgren officially named St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as the team's new head coach.
Cleveland has been something of a revolving door for coaches since rejoining the NFL in 1999, with the torch being passed from Chris Palmer to Butch Davis to Romeo Crennel to Eric Mangini.
And now to Shurmur. So how will he fare as the Browns' head man? And what does his hire mean in the bigger picture?
Read on to find out!
Before going into too much depth about what the hire means, it's important to get a sense of who Pat Shurmur is, at least in the context of the NFL.
Shurmur got his start as a tight ends coach at Michigan State for the better part of the 1990s after playing for the Spartans in the late 1980s.
Shurmur then spent a year as the offensive line coach at Stanford before jumping to the NFL as Andy Reid's quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia in 1999.
After 10 years tutoring Donovan McNabb with the Eagles, Shurmur moved on to St. Louis to be Steve Spagnuolo's offensive coordinator before being plucked away by Mike Holmgren to be the head coach in Cleveland starting in the fall of 2011.
The other great thing about Pat Shurmur is his name.
And not just because "Shurmur" is easy to say five times fast.
Rather, Shurmur's uncle, the late Fritz Shurmur, lent the family name some credence in the football world as Mike Holmgren's defensive coordinator in Green Bay from 1994-1998.
You may recall that those defenses, led by the late Hall-of-Fame lineman Reggie White, helped propel the Packers to two Super Bowls, including a victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
Not a bad coaching pedigree to have on a resume.
The one big thing missing from Shurmur's resume is previous experience as a head coach at any level.
Such an absence certainly sticks out, especially when other candidates with head coaching chops, like Jon Gruden, Mike Mularkey and John Fox, are (or in Fox's case, were) on the market.
As such, if Shurmur makes an inordinate number of rookie mistakes, folks in Cleveland will undoubtedly question whether he was the right man for the job.
Then again, Shurmur could turn out to be the perfect fit for what Mike Holmgren is putting together in Cleveland.
As a long-time assistant under Andy Reid, Pat Shurmur falls squarely into the school of coaches who prescribe to the West Coast offense.
It just so happens that Reid was once Holmgren's quarterbacks coach in Green Bay, and it's less coincidental that Holmgren is one of the biggest proponents of the West Coast offense in the NFL.
After all, Holmgren coached in San Francisco under Bill Walsh, the father of the West Coast offense, and had, well, a successful pupil here and there.
You know, just Joe Montana and Steve Young with the 49ers, Brett Favre with the Packers and Matt Hasselbeck with the Seahawks.
Hence, Shurmur is an excellent fit for Holmgren, whose philosophy as Browns team president thus far has been to get everyone on the same page in Cleveland.
Pat Shurmur's hire would not have been possible had Mike Holmgren decided not to fire Eric Mangini.
Once dubbed the "Man-Genius" by ESPN broadcast personality Chris Berman, Mangini has since fallen on hard times, getting dumped by the Jets after three years and by the Browns after only two unsuccessful seasons.
Mangini was viewed as a lame duck from the moment Holmgren set foot in Cleveland in December of 2009, though Holmgren gave Mangini something of a grace period at the helm before expectedly making a change.
The great irony of Shurmur replacing Mangini, of course, is that Mangini considered hiring Shurmur to be his offensive coordinator in New York before settling on Brian Schottenheimer (yes, the son of Marty Schottenheimer) instead.
Karma's a pain, ain't it, Eric?
As young and inexperienced as Pat Shurmur may be as a head coach, he does have a fairly impressive track record grooming young quarterbacks.
In Philadelphia, Shurmur tutored a young Donovan McNabb into a Pro Bowler who led the Eagles to the playoffs year after year before being traded to the Washington Redskins in 2010.
In St. Louis, Shurmur, as the Rams' offensive coordinator, oversaw the rapid development of No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, the prohibitive favorite to be named this year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and perhaps the best rookie quarterback to hit the league since Peyton Manning.
Now, Shurmur will be charged with the task of turning Colt McCoy, the former Texas Longhorn and the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, into a franchise quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
If past performance is any indicator of future success, then McCoy looks to be in good hands with Shurmur as his maestro.
Now that he has hand-picked his quarterback (Colt McCoy), head coach (Pat Shurmur) and general manager (Tom Heckert), any praise or blame for the Browns' success will fall squarely on the burly shoulders of the man known colloquially as "The Big Show."
That's not to suggest that the Mike Holmgren regime is going to be a failure in Cleveland. If anything, having Holmgren at the helm should bode well for the Browns, considering Holmgren's considerable success in Green Bay and Seattle prior to landing in Ohio.
Then again, these are the Cleveland Browns we're talking about. Bringing in a rookie head coach is a huge gamble for a man who is himself quite large, with his job, his reputation and the future efficacy of the Browns as a quality football team on the line. Much of that burden will likely be staked to Shurmur, putting extra pressure on a guy who only became a coordinator two years ago.
That being said, if there's anyone in the NFL who can turn the franchise around, it's Mike Holmgren.
Though Holmgren may be the face in charge of the Browns, the guy who's really in charge in Cleveland is Bob LaMonte?
Make no mistake: Bob LaMonte may not be a household name, but his hands are all over the Browns organization.
LaMonte is one of the most successful agents in the NFL today, and it just so happens that Holmgren, Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert are all clients of his.
Coincidence? You be the judge.
Back in St. Louis, Shurmur's departure has left a void among Steve Spagnuolo's staff, one that is particularly vital to the future of the franchise.
As mentioned previously, Shurmur, as the Rams offensive coordinator, coached Sam Bradford through his rookie season and would have done the same for Bradford as a sophomore had he not left to coach elsewhere.
The task now falls to Spagnuolo and Rams management to find the right guy to not only coach the team's offense, but also ensure that Bradford continues to improve and grow into the franchise's next great star.
In the grander scheme of things, Shurmur's hiring is, obviously, intended to help propel the Browns into contention in the AFC North.
Of course, it won't be easy for Cleveland to compete with the likes of Baltimore and Pittsburgh, at least not yet.
The Ravens have a young coach (John Harbaugh) and young stars (Joe Flacco and Ray Rice) to propel them forward, though aging stalwarts like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed won't be around forever.
The Steelers still boast Ben Roethlisberger on the field and Mike Tomlin on the sideline, so they don't appear to be leaving the picture any time soon.
As such, the Browns organization finds itself in a precarious position, like that of any team other than the Yankees and Red Sox in baseball's AL East—stuck behind two juggernauts for the time being.
Not that things won't soon change. After all, the NFL is all about parity, which, at this point, should work in Cleveland's favor.