Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cowher on the Way Out? Who Will Replace Him? Let the Rumors Begin!

In 1969, 36-year old Chuck Noll was chosen to serve as head coach of the moribund Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest was history. Twenty-three years later, in December of 1991, Mr. Noll announced that he would be stepping down at the end of that season; and the conjecture as to who would replace the greatest NFL coach of the 1970s began almost immediately.

The list of candidates, according to media reports at the time, was pretty impressive even in hindsight: Mike Holmgren (San Francisco Offensive Coordinator at the time), Vince Tobin (Chicago Defensive Coordinator), Dave Wannstedt (Dallas Defensive Coordinator), Richie Petitbone (Washington Defensive Coordinator), Pete Carroll (years away from his success at USC, he was the Defensive Coordinator for the New York Jets), Joe Green (who was on Chuck Noll's staff at the time), and Bill Cowher (Defensive Coordinator at Kansas City).

As everyone knows 34-year old Bill Cowher was tabbed to be Mr. Noll's replacement, and the rest has been history.

Is Bill Cowher going to be coaching his final home game in Pittsburgh this Sunday? Only time will tell, but if that turns out to be the case here are the resumes of some of the coaches (listed alphabetically) all of us are going to be hearing about as possible, external candidates (along with their respective ages) to serve as the Steelers' third head coach in thirty-eight years:

Bob Bratkowski (51 years old) - Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator (2001-Current)
  • Wide receiver coach - Pittsburgh Steelers (1999-2000)
  • Offensive Coordinator - Seattle Seahawks (1995-1998)

Chuck Bresnahan (46 years old) - Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Coordinator (2005-Current)
  • Assistant coach - Cincinnati Bengals (2004)
  • Defensive Coordinator - Oakland Raiders (2000-20003)
  • Defensive back coach - Oakland Raiders (1998-1999)
  • Linebacker coach - Indianapolis Colts (1996-1997)

Cam Cameron (45 years old) - San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator (2002-Current)
  • Head coach - Indiana University (1997-2001)
  • Quarterback coach - Washington Redskins (1994-1996)

Pete Carroll (55 years old) - University of Southern California Head Coach (2001-Current)
  • Head Coach - New England Patriots (1997-1999)
  • Defensive Coordinator - San Francisco 49ers (1995-1996)

Rick Dennison (48 years old) - Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator (2006-Current)
  • Offensive line coach - Denver (2001-2005)
  • Special teams coach - Denver (1997-2000)
  • Offensive assistant coach - Denver (1995-1996)

Steve Fairchild (47 years old) - Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator (2006-Current)
  • Offensive Coordinator - St. Louis Rams (2004-2005)
  • Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach - St. Louis Rams (2003)
  • Running backs coach - Buffalo Bills (2001-2002)
  • Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach - Colorado State University (1997-2000)
  • Quarterbacks coach - Colorado State University (1993-1996)

Jim Haslett (51 years old) - St. Louis Rams Defensive Coordinator (2006-Current)
  • Head coach - New Orleans Saints (2000-2005, 45 wins-51 losses)
  • Defensive coordinator - Pittsburgh (1997-1999)
  • Defensive coordinator - New Orleans (1996)
  • Pittsburgh native

Donnie Henderson (49 years old) - Detroit Lions Defensive Coordinator (2006-Current)
  • Defensive coordinator - New York Jets (2004-2005)
  • Defensive backs coach - Baltimore Ravens (2000-2003)
  • Assistant defensive backs coach - Baltimore Ravens (1999)
  • Assistant head coach/Defensive backs coach - University of Houston (1998)
  • Defensive backs coach - Arizona State University (1995-1997)

Tim Lewis (45 years old) - New York Giants Defensive Coordinator (2004-Current)
  • Defensive coordinator - Pittsburgh Steelers (2000-2003)
  • Secondary coach - Pittsburgh Steelers (1995-1999)

Mike Mularkey - Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator (2006-Current)
  • Head coach - Buffalo Bills (2004-2005)
  • Offensive Coordinator - Pittsburgh Steelers (2001-2003)
  • Tight ends coach - Pittsburgh Steelers (1996-2000)

Ron Rivera (44 years old) - Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator (2004-Current)
  • Linebacker coach - Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2003)
  • Defensive quality control - Chicago Bears (1997-1998)

Rex Ryan (44 years old) - Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator (2005-Current)
  • Defensive line coach - Baltimore Ravens (1999-2004)
  • Defensive coordinator - Oklahoma University (1998)
  • Defensive coordinator - University of Cincinnati (1996-1997)

Mike Zimmer (50 years old) - Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator (2000-Current)
  • Secondary coach - Dallas Cowboys (1995-1999)

From this list Tim Lewis is a lock to get an interview, after all he is a legitimate minority candidate. Meanwhile the inclusion here of Pete Carrol is, of course, the worst kind of rumor mongering (and the fact that it is included in a posting that is built upon unsustantiated supposition -- i.e. that Bill Cowher is leaving Pittsburgh at the end of this season -- makes it all the worse), but there have been rumors off-and-on for the last three years that Mr. Carroll could be lured back to the NFL. Of course, he might have to take a pay cut to get the Steelers' job.

We'll take a look at the internal candidates next time.

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