They targeted the San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator as their next coach before the exit door had swung closed behind Jim Schwartz. As recently as Saturday, a source close to the situation described Detroit's process like this: "It is all Whiz."
Perhaps it shouldn't have been. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Whisenhunt accepted an offer to become head coach of the Tennessee Titans, according to a source informed of the negotiations. The Titans later confirmed the hiring.
Whisenhunt was Detroit's clear front runner for a reason. He had past head coaching experience, a reputation for instilling discipline and a track record of making talented quarterbacks better.
How convinced were the Lions that they would land Whisenhunt? According to Rapoport, the Lions planned to send the owner's private plane to San Diego to pick up the coach Monday. The plane never got off the tarmac in Detroit.
Which leaves the Lions moving on to Plan B.
Rapoport reports, per a Lions source, that former Titans coach Mike Munchak and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell are now the two top targets. The team source says Caldwell has the edge.
Whoever it is, they'll have to deal with the stigma they weren't the first choice. A few wins should shake that imputation, but it's not an ideal situation to walk into.