Titans interim president staying on job through this season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans are keeping interim president Steve Underwood on the job through this season and postponing their search for his permanent replacement until the offseason.
The team is looking for some stability after so many changes since owner Bud Adams died in October 2013
The Titans announced the decision Tuesday.
The franchise has gone through a significant overhaul of the front office this offseason, including the retirement of president Tommy Smith in March.
Underwood said the reorganization prompted the owners to postpone the search because the Titans report for training camp in about six weeks, limiting the opportunity for the new president to get acclimated before the season starts Sept. 13.
Underwood told The Associated Press the Titans never began the search process for his replacement because they had other issues to handle first.
''We never did begin the process in earnest,'' Underwood said. ''We had other issues that we were working on. They asked me if I would be willing to stay through the season, and because of my legacy really with the organization, I'm willing to do that.''
Underwood retired from the organization in 2011 after approximately 35 years with the Oilers-Titans franchise, including the final six as senior executive vice president overseeing the team's day-to-day operations for Adams.
Underwood also served as general counsel. He took over March 20 as interim president at the request of the ownership group that includes Adams' daughters Susie Adams Smith and Amy Adams Strunk and the family of his late son.
Strunk said the owners want stability for the Titans after so much change over the past year and a half and Underwood fills that need.
''We will review the situation at some point after the 2015 season and will make a final decision about how to proceed with filling the position on a permanent basis, as we are committed to having a CEO/President in Nashville,'' Strunk said in a statement.
The Titans already have received resumes from people interested in the president position.
The team is asking candidates if they can keep their resumes to use once the search starts after the season ends.
Delaying the search allows the Titans to focus on this season.
The reorganization of the front office includes the firing of senior ticketing director Marty Collins and director of ticket operations Tim Zenner in February. Don MacLachlan, executive vice president of administration and facilities, resigned two weeks later.
A new vice president of digital media, media relations, community relations, broadcasting and production was hired in May and joined the Titans last week. Underwood said they know they have to make improvements in their game-day experience at the stadium. Fans stayed away by the thousands last season despite technical sellouts.
On the field, coach Ken Whisenhunt added Hall of Fame defensive coach Dick LeBeau to his staff this season. Whisenhunt didn't know Underwood before this year but said the move is great for the team.
''He knows what he's doing,'' Whisenhunt said. ''I think he has a good feel for our fans, for this community, for the organization, for what's important and I'm excited about that.''
Now Underwood said the Titans are putting football first for an organization that went 2-14 last season and drafted Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota at No. 2 overall. They open the season Sept. 13 at Tampa Bay against Jameis Winston, who was drafted No. 1.
''I feel great about the direction we're headed in in football and the way our business operations are also changing,'' Underwood said.
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