It was worth the wait.
“For me, personally, it’s the best job,” he said this morning at an introductory news conference. “This one is special to me.”
Chudzinski was born and raised in the Toledo area as an avid Browns fan. He became an assistant here in 2004, ’07 and ’08, but bled brown and orange long before that.
He recalled turning around the TV so he and his cousins outside the house could feel like they were in the Dawg Pound. He admitted to having eaten a few dog biscuits and pretending to be Ozzie Newsome and Brian Sipe in his backyard.
“I’m excited to bring back what I grew up with,” Chudzinski said. “I want a product we can be proud of and that wins.”
Chudzinski, 44, was a college and NFL assistant for 19 years and had been preparing to take the next step. Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner, who joined him for the news conference, said he was prepared and decisive in his interviews and convinced them he could command a room and lead a team.
“There’s no doubt,” Haslam said. “We feel very confident we got the right guy.”
Haslam and Banner began the search for the sixth full-time coach since the Browns returned in 1999 after firing Pat Shurmur on Dec. 31. They interviewed “nine or 10” candidates before settling on Chudzinski.
He got the call to interview Tuesday and met with Haslam and Banner on Wednesday at Haslam’s home in Bratenahl. Chudzinski returned to Charlotte, N.C., where he was offensive coordinator of the Panthers the past two years, then got a call Thursday that Haslam and Banner wanted to fly down for dinner.
The offer came at the table. He accepted, flew back to Cleveland and got one hour of sleep.
“I can’t wait to get started,” he said.
He was scheduled to meet with the Browns assistants this afternoon and decide which ones he wants to interview. His wouldn’t comment on the roster or his potential assistants, but said his first priorities were to assemble a staff and talk to the players.
Chudzinski has done well as a play caller but said he would give that duty to the coordinator if he found the right person. Foxsports.com reported former Chargers coach Norv Turner will be the coordinator.