BEREA - As far as Mike Holmgren is concerned it's business as usual.
The Browns president re-affirmed his commitment to the organization as he prepares for the third year of a five-year plan to put the team back on the NFL map. Not even the recent change of owners has altered his plans.
"I've never quit anything in my life," Holmgren said Monday during a lengthy press conference.
News of the sale from former owner Randy Lerner to Tennessee billionaire James Haslam III hit the first day of training camp. The sale was finalized a few days later and is still awaiting approval of 31 owners.
There was immediate conjecture about what Haslam's arrival means for Holmgren and other executives, including general manager Tom Heckert. Pat Shurmur, as the head coach, would have been on a hot seat even if Lerner had remained based on last season's 4-12 record.
Holmgren signed a five-year contract in December of 2009 after sitting out a year following his resignation as coach of the Seattle Seahawks. With rumors that former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner is part of the new ownership group, it's possible that he could replace Holmgren before the latter's contract expires in 2014.
If that's the case, Holmgren isn't aware of it. He has every intention to be with the Browns throughout the length of his contract.
"I hope so. That's the plan," he said.
Haslam has been active in learning everything he can about the workings of the organization, but he hasn't made any major moves until he officially assumes ownership. Holmgren knows it's natural to think that changes are coming.
"If you've been in the business as long as I have nothing much surprises you," Holmgren said. "The one thing that has surprised me in the process is that this has happened rather quickly compared to other teams being sold and purchased in the past.
"All you can do is what you can do. I believe in the people we have here. They're going about business as usual. I talked to the whole building a while ago and said, 'You're good. We see light at the end of the tunnel. Keep doing what you've been doing and we'll see what happens.' "
The timing of the sale was the biggest surprise to Holmgren. The fact that it happened at the outset of a new season laid the groundwork for what could be unsettled times throughout all areas of the operation.
"I think the players and coaches have handled the whole thing beautifully," Holmgren said. "Who knows what's in the deepest thoughts of people's minds if they don't tell you. On the surface and how we're preparing and we put the team together, I like what I see. I think they've gone about business pretty well."
Holmgren's timetable for success was late starting because of his decision to retain former coach Eric Mangini in the 2010 season after a 5-11 showing in 2009. When the Browns produced another 5-11 record in 2010, Mangini was gone and Shurmur was hired with a strong recommendation from Holmgren.
After a 4-12 season in which Shurmur was criticized for some lapses in judgment, the Browns need to show progress this season. That could be a difficult challenge for Shurmur as he works with a roster that includes 15 rookies.
If nothing else, Haslam has been inquisitive about the hows and whys of putting together the final roster. He's well aware of where the Browns are in their latest rebuilding project.
"My feelings are he's pretty realistic," Holmgren said. "He knows we're young. He asks a lot of football questions. I'll stick with what I've said all along prior to this happening. My expectations are that we're better this year. That's how we'll all be judge eventually