A bottomless pit of misery

The coach was fired after one season.

The general manager doesn’t do press conferences.

The owner might be indicted.

For most fanbases, following a professional sports team is a pastime. A pleasant diversion.

For Cleveland Browns’ fans, it’s a draining experience that leaves you frustrated, tired and in need of a diversion for this diversion.

The Browns had a horrible season. Rob Chudzinski’s tenure as the franchise’s coach lasted slightly longer than Gram Parsons’ tenure in the Byrds.

But at least Parsons had “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” to show for his experience. Chudzinski has no classic country-rock album, and certainly not a classic season.

Chud’s legacy is a forgettable 4-12 campaign and the introduction of the brown jersey/brown pants combination.

Hey, I thought it was cool. The second part, anyway. Four-and-twelve is never cool, unless you’re in love with mediocrity.

Which, at times, it seems like the Browns are.

But the Browns’ 2013 was less a reflection of Chudzinski’s coaching prowess as it was a demonstration of front office competence.

So, naturally, guess who stays?

Chudzinski is out because he didn’t win enough. How owner Jimmy Haslam, team president Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi expected Chud to win with the roster they provided him is anybody’s guess.

So allow me to venture one:

They didn’t.

Chudzinski’s firing probably has more to do with the front office not getting its first choice last January and trying to rectify it a year later. It’s not really fair, but it almost never is in pro sports. Lots of people get opportunities. They just may not be good ones.

Which has to be what potential Browns’ coaches are thinking.

No one knows for sure who the Browns’ first choice is to replace Chudzinski. No matter who it is, do you honestly think that man will look at the record, the quarterback situation, and the way the last coach was treated, and want in?

Well, there’s always money. And Haslam likely will be paying a truckload to get the man he wants.

In a few days, a few weeks maybe, the Browns will bring out their new coach. Haslam and Banner will profess confidence and patience in whomever this man turns out to be. Lombardi won’t be there, because I guess he’s camera shy. Apparently his six-year tenure as an analyst at NFL Network was a mirage.

As frustrating as this organization has been over the past 15 seasons, the last week has taken things to a new level.

The whole 2013 season was a big mess, and it looks like things might only get weirder.

Remember, Haslam is under investigation.

So where does that leave the fans?

Well, if the last 20 years have taught us anything, it’s that the Browns – despite the franchise’s best efforts – can’t drive them away. They’ll always find something to be optimistic about. Some, for instance, still crow about the front office unloading Trent Richardson on the Colts for a first round draft pick, because the draft has become the fans’ Super Bowl. It’s the only television event the team can’t lose, at least not right away.

Meanwhile, Richardson and the Colts were in the playoffs Saturday.

Come August, almost everyone will buy in again, believing the team at least will not embarrass itself in 2014.

We only can hope.

Zach Baker is the sports editor of The Advertiser-Tribune.

Contact him at:

zbaker@ or on Twitter @Zachthewriter