January 2, 2006
And Your Next Coach Is....

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Back on October 19, I wrote a blog entry on possible head coach candidates. I reprint that story, with my permission, for your reading pleasure.

So, when the time comes that Mike Tice exits Winter Park with a pink slip in hand, who does Zygi and Mark Wilf bring in to next lead the Vikings? Let?s review the possible candidates in no particular order:

Available Ex-Head Coaches

1. Dan Reeves -- Reeves has won 200 games. He kept the door open after his dismissal in Atlanta for a return to the sidelines. How can you dismiss the sixth-winningest coach in league history?

2. Jim Fassel -- With the Wilf's history to the New York Giants, combined with Fassel's winning record Super Bowl appearance, I would say that alone will get him an interview.

3. Jimmy Johnson -- With lack of prime ocean space in Minnesota, I'm not even sure we'd get a sniff.

Offensive Coordinators

1. Brad Childress, Philadelphia Eagles -- Childress is head coach Andy Reid's right-hand man on offense. He has some of the same skin-tough qualities as Reid and he understands players. Brings a winning attitude.

2. Al Saunders, Kansas City Chiefs -- Saunders actually has NFL head coaching experience with the San Diego Chargers. He grew a great deal as an offensive coach when exposed to Mike Martz's system, and he also witnessed the Dick Vermeil way of winning.

3. Mike Heimerdinger, New York Jets -- He's been around Jeff Fisher (Titans head coach) and Mike Shanahan. He also took the Titans through a conversion of being a mostly run-oriented team to one that is diverse. QB Steve McNair's career skyrocketed under his tutelage. Now with the Jets.

4. Steve Fairchild, St. Louis Rams -- As the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Mike Martz, his already-good reputation continues to grow. Fairchild will take over play-calling duties during Martz's absence due to illness.

5. Maurice Carthon , Dallas Cowboys -- Carthon has been exposed to Parcells as a player and assistant, so he has the blueprint for success.

Defensive Coordinators

1. Rod Marinelli, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Officially, he's the assistant head coach/defense. But he coaches the defensive line. Highly regarded and players respond. Years under Dungy and Gruden make him a worthwhile interview. And, I'm sure you remember Week One?

2. Ted Cottrell, Minnesota Vikings -- Does he merit an interview? May also be serving as interim coach by the seasons end.

College Coaches

1. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa -- Ferentz is familiar to local college sports football followers. He has an NFL background as a highly regarded offensive-line coach under Bill Belichick in Cleveland and Brian Billick in Baltimore. Combined with his success at Iowa, he will be on almost everyone's short list. NFL execs who watch him on the practice field and on the sidelines see a coach with leadership skills, organized, disciplined and communicative. Players respond to him.

2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma -- He's young, he's a leader, and he wins. His teams are known for defense and won the 2000 BCS championship game finishing with a record of 13-0.

3. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland -- He was the offensive coordinator under Bobby Ross when the Chargers went to the Super Bowl in 1994, and he has had great success in building Maryland into a winner. He's gruff and that scares some NFL types, but he can't be ignored. Normally regarded as a guru of offense, but he has become whole in his approach to the game.

4. Jeff Tedford, Cal -- You better keep track of this guy. He has taken a broken program and quickly turned it into a winner. His reputation had been as a quarterback guru who helped Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Joey Harrington, A.J. Feeley, Akili Smith and Kyle Boller experience success. But he's more than a QB guy. He's organized, he's a leader, he's a teacher, he understands staffing, he's got some charisma and he's a game-planner.

5. Pete Carroll, USC -- Was being considered along with Dennis Green more than a decade ago to coach the Vikings. Will his time come due now?

College Guys "On the Radar"

1. Jim Tressel, Ohio State -- In a league where strong defense and a commitment to the run is a basic formula for success, he has a calling card.

2. Mark Richt, Georgia -- He's among a handful of college candidates who has no NFL experience, but he has a few admirers in the NFL because of his work at Georgia. His teams are physical. His offense is balanced. He has assembled an excellent staff. He's relatively young.

3. Randy Edsall, Connecticut -- Edsall has enjoyed loads of success as a former assistant under Tom Coughlin at the collegiate and pro level. And when you see what he has done at UConn in a relatively short ascension from Division I-AA to Division I, he's a pretty good sleeper candidate.

4. Houston Nutt, Arkansas -- His teams generally overachieve; they are feisty, physical, they know how to run the football and he consistently wins.

5. Karl Dorrell, UCLA -- He's done a solid job at UCLA and he has had NFL exposure under Mike Shanahan in Denver.

6. Dan Hawkins, Boise State University -- Hawkins has brought the Broncos to 44-7 in just four seasons and if he isn't the best college football coach in America, he can't be too considerably down the list. At the very least he is the most distinctively interesting. Boise State hasn't become more than just its blue Smurf turf because of one or two good players. Instead it has grasped success and kept squeezing tighter because it has a coach who doesn't think like most coaches, whose favorite place is outside the box, who believes in the democracy of the team and who considers instilling self-worth in players (which manifests itself in daring play calling) a lot more valuable that demeaning the hell out of them. In an era of screaming task masters, Hawkins prefers to build respectful relationships with his players.

Did I miss anyone? Yes, I did consider Jim Johnson of the Eagles but at his age I just did not think him viable.

Anyone have more information they can share personally? Especially those who know the college coaches I mention I bit better due to living in that area? Leave a comment below.

Note: Various sources were used to compile this entry.

Ale to Consider

I make it no secret that I am a Guinness man. That famous Irish stout with the consistency of motor oil. Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Over my holiday period, I found I rather liked another ale. Oh no, it will not replace the coveted space I have reserved for my special Guinness, but it will certainly find a spot in the ol' beer fridge.

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Posted by maasx003 at January 2, 2006 7:56 AM