News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 2, 2012

Colts give the boot to Polian duo

Indy coach Caldwell’s status still up in the air

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — It didn’t take long for Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay to start making moves with his team.

One day after Irsay’s Colts dropped a 19-13 road decision to Jacksonville, giving Indianapolis a 2-14 record and the No. 1 pick in the 2012 National Football League draft, longtime Colts executive Bill Polian and his son, vice-president/general manager Chris Polian, were both fired.

While the status of coach Jim Caldwell remains to be decided — Irsay opting to wait until a new general manager is brought on board — the decision to cut both Polians loose came somewhat as a surprise. “I talked to [Bill and Chris Polian Monday] afternoon and it was a very tough decision for me,” Irsay said during a press conference.

“I had a chance to express to them, and Bill in particular, how hard it was and the appreciation the franchise has for all that has been done. Obviously, [Bill Polian] and I go back 30 years. So this is difficult; this is the tough part of this business.”

Bill Polian had initially joined the team as the Colts’ general manager in 1998, directing the Indianapolis draft that selected quarterback Peyton Manning. He quickly rose through the front-office hierarchy.

“I would like to thank Jim Irsay and the Irsay family for all they have done for me over the past 14 years,” Bill Polian said in a prepared statement. “I’m grateful for all the support the fans have shown us in good times and bad.

“Indianapolis has been a wonderful place to live and work. Most of all I would like to thank the players, coaches and staff who have played the pivotal role in this magnificent journey I will miss them all.”

In another move, Irsay announced that Steve Champlin — the Colts’ director of football operations — has been told that his contract with the team would not be renewed.

While there is no hard and firm timeline on when a new general manager will be brought on board, the Colts’ owner would like to have somebody hired within a few weeks.

Chris Polian, who has been with the team in a variety of positions, was named general manager last year. He was given the additional title of vice president before the start of this season.

A second son, Dennis, remains on board as the team’s director of football administration. His status with the Colts remains unchanged, although Irsay admitted that a final decision would be made when a new general manager

As for Caldwell’s ongoing role, it remains the same for now. Irsay did not rule out keeping the third-year coach for the long term. He said that it would be a cumulative decision between the general manager and Irsay as to what would happen next.

“I’m moving forward, until otherwise notified,” the Colts coach said during his Monday press conference. “What I’m doing is going on about my everyday business like I normally do.”

Caldwell said that is looking forward to returning for the 2012 season is that situation presents itself.

“Love it, looking forward to it, plain and simple,” he said. “Love what I do, love the team, the organization, think we’ve got a good nucleus to get things rolling, back on track to where we were before.Yeah, certainly, I’d love to be part of it.”