CLEVELAND — Rob Chudzinski's roots run 44 years deep with the Browns.
As a kid, he buckled on his orange helmet and ran around his backyard in Toledo, Ohio, pretending he was Ozzie Newsome. He sat outside in the snow and watched Cleveland games on TV through the window to make it feel like he was in the Dawg Pound.
He chomped on dog biscuits.
On Friday, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came true for Chudzinski, who was introduced as the Browns' sixth fulltime coach since 1999. Although he has never been a head coach, Chud was selected over candidates with more experience and stronger resumes.
Chudzinski, though, stood out. He wanted it more than anyone.
It's a dream come true, almost unbelievable in a lot of ways, Chudzinski said.
There is a segment of Browns fans as stunned as Chudzinski, whose hiring seemed to come out of nowhere.
After interviewing several high-profile candidates, including Oregon coach Chip Kelly, former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt and other top coordinators, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner picked Chudzinski, who spent the past two years as Carolina's offensive coordinator.
Haslam said he spoke with nine or 10 of the best coaches in the country and insisted Chudzinski was on the team's list of candidates from the outset.
Rob was always on our radar screen, Haslam said of his first coaching hire. Rob has been identified as a top, bright, young guy for a long time. I feel very confident we've got the right guy.
This is Chudzinski's third stint with the Browns. He coached Cleveland's tight ends in 2004 and was the team's offensive coordinator in 2007-08. In his first season calling plays, the Browns went 10-6 and had four players make the Pro Bowl. It hasn't been nearly as good since he left
Happy to see Chud coming back, Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said in an email to the AP. We had a good year in 2007. Very smart offensive mind. When he left, I knew he'd be a great head coach someday!