INDIANAPOLIS — Josh McDaniels backed out of a deal to become the Indianapolis’ Colts new coach, a decision that shocked the franchise hours after it announced his hiring.
The Colts confirmed McDaniels’ decision in a statement Tuesday night after reports emerged that the Patriots’ offensive coordinator had opted to stay in New England with coach Bill Belichick.
McDaniels, who coached the Broncos to an 11-17 record in 2009 and part of 2010 before being fired, had agreed to contract terms with the Colts to replace the fired Chuck Pagano, and a news conference had been scheduled for Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Just a few hours later, the Colts said McDaniels informed them he would not sign the deal.
“Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organization on and off the field,” the Colts said in the statement.
“I’m speechless,” former Colts receiver Reggie Wayne told NFL Network. “I’ve talked with people in the Colts organization and they feel like they’ve been hoodwinked.”
It’s also not clear how the Colts will proceed from here.
On Wednesday, Colts general manager Chis Ballard said the rivalry between the teams is “back on.”
Ballard tried to explain why McDaniels backed out of the deal.
Ballard said the Colts have a list of additional coaching candidates including some they couldn’t interview because their teams were in the playoffs.
By spurning Indianapolis after it waited 22 days for the playoffs to end, McDaniels leaves the reeling franchise as the only one without a coach — in early February.
New England’s defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, left Belichick’s staff a day after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to become coach of the Detroit Lions.
McDaniels has been considered a top-tier head coaching candidate for several years even though his only other coaching stint with the Broncos ended badly.
He went 8-8 with the Broncos in 2009 after starting 6-0 and 3-9 in 2010 before he was fired with three games left in the season.
It’s unusual but not unprecedented in league history for a deal with a new coach to fall through at the last minute.
McDaniels’ move was eerily reminiscent of his mentor, Belichick, who resigned as coach of the Jets with a handwritten note less than a day after he was hired in 2000.
Although McDaniels never signed his contract with Indianapolis, his stint was even shorter.