Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 13, 2023

GM solution might be in Titans’ own backyard

Pat Sperduto, who had two stints as head coach of the Nashville Kats Arena Football team, is co-director of college scouting for the Kansas City Chiefs. He still lives in the Nashville area. - Photograph provided

Judging from the names that have trickled out so, the Tennessee Titans seem to be looking inside the box for their next general manager.

There’s two from the San Francisco 49ers – assistant general manager Adam Peters and the director of player personnel Ran Carthon – along with Buffalo Bills senior director of pro personnel Malik Boyd, Chicago Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham and Cleveland Browns assistant GM Glenn Cook.

Titans vice president of player personnel Ryan Cowden, the Titans’ interim general manager, is another possibility, as is Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort.

Good candidates all. But what if the Titans were to think outside the box?

The NFL has long been a copycat league. One team finds success, and other teams try to duplicate that success for themselves.

Coach Mike Vrabel said as much in his season-ending news conference regarding what he wants in the team’s identity and what is lacking to reach that.

“I want us to be smart, tough, fast, physical,” he said. “I still think there’s a degree of physicality that’s required in this game at every level. Fundamentally sound, playing with good technique, but we’ve got to get faster. We have to be a faster football team. Rarely are we the fastest team out there.”

Fast, huh? If the Titans want and need to get faster at their skill positions in order to compete in a conference and a league that is becoming more explosive, there is one outside-the-box suggestion for their general manager position, a man who already lives here in Nashville and has worked for the organization in the past.

That candidate is Kansas City Chiefs co-director of college scouting Pat Sperduto.

Most remember Sperduto as the affable head coach of the Nashville Kats of the old Arena Football League. But in the time since then, Sperduto has proven himself to be a keen judge of talent and an underrated player in helping to assemble the weapons that Patrick Mahomes gets to work with in making the Chiefs the team to beat in the AFC for the past five years.

After Titans founder Bud Adams bought the Kats, and while they were on hiatus, Sperduto worked in the Titans front office, doing a number of different jobs. He helped Mike Munchak behind the scenes with the coaching staff and assisted Floyd Reese in the personnel department before moving to Kansas City in 2009 as a regional scout. There, his first move was to persuade the Chiefs to take safety Eric Berry in his first draft with the club.

Oh, and by the way, there was a certain linebacker on the Chiefs roster in Sperduto’s early days as a scout there by the name of Mike Vrabel. So there would at least be some familiarity between the two.

More recently, Sperduto has moved away from the road life of being a regional scout to become the team’s co-director of college scouting, where he oversees all the picks that are made.

The Memphis native played college football at the University of Massachusetts – he is a 2009 inductee into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame – before starting his coaching career as an assistant at Murray State 1991. He played for the Arena League’s Tampa Bay Storm (1991-93) before joining the team’s coaching staff.

He arrived in Nashville as defensive coordinator of the Kats in 1997 and became head coach in 1999, taking his team to two ArenaBowl championship games. His teams finished 8-6, 9-5 and 10-4.

The Kats returned for three seasons (2005-2008) with Sperduto serving as head coach and director of football operations but failed to produce a winning season before folding for the final time.

One longtime former AFC team executive, who asked not to be identified, says Sperduto would be a great general manager for the Titans.

“I’ve known Pat for over 20 years, and he’s been around and done it all,” the executive says. “You have to remember that when he was in the Arena League, he was not only the coach there but he was also the GM. It was a different league, but he has the experience of running an organization not only as a coach, but also signing and evaluating players.

“Pat has been around a long time and has done a lot of things. Most of the guys that are GM candidates now don’t have that kind of experience. I don’t think enough guys like that really get a shot to be a GM, like they probably should.”

Vrabel’s edict that the Titans need to get faster on the field would be right in Sperduto’s wheelhouse. His region to scout was the Southeast, so some of the players he tracked who ended up on the Chiefs roster also included Tyreek Hill, Dexter McCluster and Mecole Hardman.

Sperduto might not have the push of being the flavor of the month as a rising executive around the NFL. But what he does have is a proven track record of hard work and success – something the Titans should seriously consider before they sign off on their new general manager.