NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Figuring out the differences between new Tennessee coach Mike Munchak and the man he replaced is pretty easy.
Under Munchak, the Titans warm out before practice during training camp to the sounds of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," Bruce Springsteen and even Kool Moe Dee's "Wild Wild West. The music is turned off once the Titans get down to work, and then the speakers are cranked back up at the end.
Titans receiver Nate Washington jokes he couldn't stretch out the first time he heard the music because he was so busy dancing.
"He's shaking it up in the proper way," Washington said of the new coach. "He's not whipping us with the whip, but he's patting us on the back, and a lot of guys are pushing themselves harder to work for him. I appreciate the things he's done so far in the organization thus far of us being here and the personality that he has."
Munchak was hired in February to replace Jeff Fisher, who left the Titans in late January after more than 16 full seasons as head coach. With the NFL lockout, Munchak didn't get to work with his players until last week when the new labor deal finally was reached. So he stayed busy planning, preparing and sprucing up the team's headquarters.
"I've been waiting six months to start coaching," Munchak said.
Munchak revamped the coaching staff, keeping six assistants from Fisher's staff. He set up his training camp schedules, which he had to rework last week after seeing the NFL's new rules that turned the two-a-day sessions he wanted to run into morning walkthroughs and one full practice instead.
In the building, he had drawings of former Houston Oilers reframed and displayed in a repainted lunch room to remind current players of the relocated franchise's lengthy history. The players' lounge got new chairs, and he even ripped out seats in the auditorium where the team meets.
The Titans didn't realize how much Munchak changed until they reported for training camp. That's when they found out that all players, even veterans, would be spending camp at a nearby hotel instead of sleeping in their own beds as Fisher had allowed.
Safety Michael Griffin hadn't really ever talked to Munchak until after he was promoted to head coach in February before the lockout. He said Munchak wanted to take his Titans away for training camp, which the lockout prevented.
"Right now it's almost like being at a real camp somewhere different just all being in the hotel and not being able to go home ...," Griffin said. "That's one of the main differences and having some organization around here. We have rules and guidelines, and I think that's part of being a good football team is having the control of your team."
Right guard Jake Scott, who had Munchak as his position coach the past three seasons, said players will have no problem following Munchak's logic.
"Everything he does makes sense. You can see the purpose behind it," Scott said. "Very rarely is he going to have us do something where you're like, 'Why are we doing this?' Everything he does is with a purpose, and it's usually pretty easy to see the purpose."
When the Titans reported for camp Friday, Munchak played a video for the players introducing them to their new coaches. The video included photos of Munchak from his Hall of Fame career with the Oilers along with each coach on the staff. Griffin, who played in college at Texas, said he noticed special teams assistant Alan Lowry once quarterbacked the Longhorns.
"His resume speaks for itself as does the rest of the coaching staff," Griffin said. "They all played the game before. It's not just somebody saying do this, do that. ... I feel very confident about this upcoming season."
For Munchak himself, he's been coaching offensive linemen since 1994. He's still trying to settle into what the head coach does during practices and said he didn't know half of what went on during practice until after the first full session.
"It was fun watching the coaches coach a little bit, watching their techniques and seeing their interaction with the players and getting to watch the different positions and seeing how guys are working and their work ethic," Munchak said.
He even grabbed the microphone Sunday night just as practice got started, thanking fans for coming out. Later, he sent all the players to the fence to sign autographs for fans.
And why the soundtrack? Munchak said they saw how energized children got with the music playing during a charity event in June, so he decided to keep playing music for both players and fans in training camp to help break up the quiet. Munchak admits that most of the music might not be on his iPod but his daughter's.
"But it's a good beat, so that's all you want when you're trying, when we started getting through these dog two-a-days," Munchak said.
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