One day after he was fired by the Tennessee Titans, Mike Munchak interviewed Sunday in Nashville with his alma mater, Penn State, according to a source, but that's not the reason he was dismissed by the NFL franchise in which he had spent 31 years as a player and coach.
League sources say that Munchak stood on principle when Titans CEO Tommy Smith offered a multiyear extension at almost double his $3 million salary, conditional upon Munchak making more than a dozen staff firings and demotions.
Sources say that Smith's guarded optimism after Friday's meeting that Munchak would agree to the conditions and return was in part tied to the belief that after Munchak slept on it, he would have a change of heart Saturday. That never happened. Munchak felt strongly about making his own adjustments with the staff, and also cited several factors that showed the team had made progress and was ready to contend in 2014.
In the organization, there was additional concern about its offseason marketing campaign. Munchak wouldn't buy a concept of change for change's sake, sources said. That led to his dismissal on Saturday.
The Titans started 2013 at 3-1 with quarterback Jake Locker and zero turnovers on offense before Locker suffered hip and knee injuries against the New York Jets. Locker returned but was lost for the season when he suffered a Lisfranc foot injury on Nov. 10. The Titans finished 7-9 in Munchak's third year. The team was 9-7 and 6-10 in Munchak's first two years.
Titans general manager Ruston Webster will head the new search and league sources say among the leading candidates for the job is Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who possibly would be paired with Mike Mularkey as the team's offensive coordinator. Quinn has ties to Webster when both were with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quinn has interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns for their head coaching vacancies.
As for Penn State, Munchak resisted overtures for the job in 2012 after Joe Paterno was fired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Munchak privately cited his loyalty to the late Titans owner, Bud Adams, who had provided him with his first head coaching opportunity, sources said.
Sources say Munchak has a plan to adapt quickly to the college game in all operations, including a recruiting blueprint.
If Penn State and Munchak go in another direction, sources say the Pro Football Hall of Fame guard will entertain offers as an offensive line coach, where he built a reputation as one of the NFL's best position coaches.