MIKE SIELSKI
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER COLUMNIST
POSTED: Sunday, January 11, 2015, 3:01 AM

Over all those sultry training-camp afternoons in Tuscaloosa, all those midseason practices to prepare for Auburn or Florida or another SEC power, all those pro days for the dozens of prospective draft picks that Alabama produced, Greg McElroy could never get over the way so many NFL scouts listened so closely to Ed Marynowitz.

"It was captivating how many people went out of their way not only to say hello, but also talk to him with notepads out," McElroy, who quarterbacked the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 2009, said in a phone interview. "You can always tell when they're really valuing what somebody has to say when their notepads are open, and that's what they all had with Ed."

A Media native and a former quarterback at La Salle University (when La Salle still had a football program), Marynowitz is the Eagles' assistant director of player personnel. He has emerged as a candidate for the new as-yet-unnamed executive position that the franchise created when it elevated Chip Kelly to Master of All Football Matters and demoted Howie Roseman to Guy Who Balances the Checkbook. If Kelly were to promote Marynowitz, who has reportedly already interviewed for the job, this would seem a rocket-like rise for someone whom the Eagles hired to his first NFL job just three years ago and who won't turn 31 until next month.

But Marynowitz's four years as Alabama's director of player personnel - an experience that's every bit as close to being a pro executive as it sounds - might give him an inside track on the position. Kelly and Alabama coach Nick Saban are friends, and as innovative as Kelly has been when it comes to his players' training and style of play, Saban has also been creative in his methods for recruiting and hoarding elite talent.

Marynowitz was at the center of Saban's program from 2008 through 2011, the oft-unseen engine that powered a recruiting machine, and McElroy saw firsthand Marynowitz's effectiveness and the esteem in which NFL scouts held him. He sees now enough connections and complements between Marynowitz and Kelly to think that Marynowitz would thrive in a greater role with the Eagles.

"He had a real knack for recognizing talent and recognizing certain characteristics that would translate to guys' being successful. I think that's a real valuable entity," said McElroy, who was a Rhodes scholar candidate at Alabama, spent three years in the NFL, and is now an analyst for the SEC Network. "There can be maybe just a certain characteristic that one guy does well. Maybe you can just find a guy who has a characteristic that's off-the-charts good, especially in a system like Chip's.

"That's what Ed did so well at Alabama. He got guys who were plugged into the system, redshirted, maybe were on special teams for a couple of years, and by the time they were seniors and juniors, they were impact players and guys who eventually played on Sundays."

If that approach to replenishing a college program's talent pool sounds familiar, it ought to. Kelly echoed it to Sports Illustrated's Peter King last summer, arguing that the NFL draft is overhyped, and that it's silly to expect a football team's youngest, newest players to excel, or even contribute, right away.

In fact, for all the cutting jokes made at Kelly's expense about his fondness for bringing Oregon alumni to the Eagles and trying to establish the same culture he had in Eugene, his philosophies have plenty in common with what Saban does at Alabama. For example, the Crimson Tide's coaches and recruiters set specific physical parameters (height, weight, etc.) for each position on the field. You are not alone, Brandon Boykin. You are not alone.

Saban, too, makes sure his coaches and staff set aside time every day to devote to recruiting. Every. Day.

"You're in the middle of October, grinding it out through an SEC schedule, and you've got LSU coming up in a week-and-a-half," McElroy said, "and they're having two-hour meetings on recruiting at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday. You just don't see that."

To maintain that schedule and workload and still give the week's game plan its proper attention, Saban had to delegate responsibility to Marynowitz and the other assistants, had to empower them to do their jobs and do them well. If Marynowitz turned out to be the Eagles' choice to be Kelly's right hand, the two of them presumably would work in a comparable manner.

"He was incredibly organized - unbelievably, off-the-charts organized," McElroy said. "And he knew personnel. He kind of had a photographic memory. He could remember guys' names. He could remember guys' family's names, parents' names. . . . There's a reason the program has had so much success. While Ed was there, the foundation was being laid."

None of the above means that Marynowitz will become the Eagles' new GM/player-personnel czar/Kelly counselor, and none of it means that, if he does get the job, he will flourish in it. But he is nothing if not an interesting and plausible candidate. Remember, the Eagles already have two major limitations on their search: They need someone who accepts Kelly's distinctive views on building and coaching a team and who will accept the clearest parameter of his role - that Kelly will have ultimate autonomy on any decision.

Already they have someone who meets both criteria, and as Greg McElroy will tell you, Ed Marynowitz has done pretty well whenever an NFL guy opens a notepad and starts listening to him.

msielski@phillynews.com