Even though Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Bill Cowher retired after the 2006 season, most around the NFL believe he will return to coaching once his contract expires after 2007.
If he does return, chances are he’s going to have a good selection of teams to choose from. But, none of them are the perfect situation.
That’s why I took a look at the NFL and compiled a list of possible job openings in 2008:
Arizona Cardinals –
Reasons he would end up here: The Cardinals would be a good place for him to solidify his Hall of Fame credentials. They have one winning season since 1998 and are in desperate need of a coach to turn that losing streak around. They already have a solid core of young stars but nobody who can lead them. They just signed Ken Whisenhunt this season, but they’ve fired head coaches in the past.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Cowher is loyal to his former assistants and I don’t think he would take the job if it meant Whisenhunt got fired.
My belief: Definitely a long shot.
Washington Redskins –
Reasons he would end up here: Joe Gibbs has failed to get the team in the playoffs his first two seasons back and, if that continues in 2007, he’ll likely be asked to resign. Dan Snyder will want a coach to turn things around quickly and isn’t afraid to spend the money to get Cowher.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Snyder is one of the worst owners in football in terms of running a team. He likes to spend money on free agents who just don’t fit and keeps his coaches on a very short leash. I can’t see this being a good marriage.
My belief: My gut tells me no. But a large sum of money could change that.
Green Bay Packers –
Reasons he would end up here: Title town USA has missed the playoffs two seasons straight. If the drought continues into a third year, GM Ted Thompson will feel some pressure to get things turned around. Cowher would like the family friendly Green Bay atmosphere and a fan base that rivals what the Steelers had.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: First year coach Mike McCarthy actually looked pretty decent this year, motivating his team to an 8-8 record when most experts thought they would be lucky to win two games. If quarterback Brett Favre returns and the youngest team in the league continue to improve, he should be able to get over the hurdle and keep his job.
My belief – I actually like McCarthy and see him as the Packers coach in 2008. Of course, I didn’t expect the Packers to fire Mike Sherman either.
Oakland Raiders –
Reasons he would end up here: Knowing Al Davis, there will likely be a job opening again.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Davis is the only NFL owner who is worse than Dan Snyder. His coaches have no control over their personnel or players and they only coaches who even attempt to work for him are ones who have no other choice. Cowher will have plenty of better options.
My belief – Don’t hold your breath, when pigs fly, when Hell freezes over and any other phrase you can think of.
New York Giants –
Reasons he would end up here: Current Head Coach Tom Coughlin didn’t exactly earn his job this year but is still employed. That, to me, indicates the Giants might be looking to take a run at Cowher in 2008.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Coughlin is a pretty good coach and has had the Giants in the playoffs two years straight. If he can get quarterback Eli Manning to improve next year, he might do well enough to keep his job longer.
Even if Coughlin is fired, I’m not sure if Cowher would want the high expectations that come from coaching in New York.
My belief – If we were talking race horses, this would be considered the favorite.
San Diego Chargers –
Reasons he would end up here: Marty Schottenheimer is a good coach but has a horrible playoff record. He kept his job this year but probably only because there aren’t any candidates who would be an upgrade. And, the fact the Chargers aren’t giving him a contract extension shows they still have some doubts about him.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Marty Schottenheimer wins the Super Bowl.
My belief – New York is still the favorite, but this might be the better situation for Cowher.
Detroit Lions –
Reasons he would end up here: Current head coach Rod Marinelli is decent but General Manager Matt Millen is running the organization on borrowed time. Another losing season under him and I think the Lions will make a change. A new GM will likely want to make an immediate impact and hire a proven winner.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Detroit Lions fans have been begging for Millen’s firing for years now and somehow he always keeps his job.
My belief – Tough to judge at this time, but they could be a front-runner.
Dallas Cowboys –
Reasons he would end up here: Bill Parcells is retiring and the list of replacement candidates are short, team owner Jerry Jones might not wait to pursue him.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Cowher wanted time off from coaching and the Cowboys would most likely have to give up draft choices.
My belief- I think Jones might make some phone calls but it won’t happen.
Cleveland Browns –
Reasons he would end up here: Much like Coughlin, Romeo Crennel didn’t do much to deserve keeping his job. The fact he’s still employed shows they may be interested in taking a shot at Cowher.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Much like Arizona, Cleveland isn’t exactly a place that has made head coaches look good. I think he would need to start from scratch there and he may not want to do that.
My belief – I think they are one of the more likely destinations for him. But, I think he’ll choose another team.
Carolina Panthers –
Reasons he would end up here: It’s a bit of a long shot considering John Fox is a good coach. But, they did miss the playoffs this year and the Saints have suddenly become a legitimate contender in their division and team officials might be pressured to make a change. If the Giants fire Coughlin and Cowher turns them down, Fox might be the top candidate for the job.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Like I said above, Fox is a good coach. The Panthers have no reason to fire him. He would have to leave on his own.
My belief – Fox will remain Carolina’s coach.
Reasons he would end up here: If Mike Tomlin doesn’t pan out immediately, fans might be calling for Cowher again. And, seeing him any other team’s colors just wouldn’t seem right.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: The Steelers are good about not keeping coaches on a short leash and that’s paid off for them. They won’t give up on a coach after one year to bring back one that already left them once.
My belief – Nice dream, but it won’t happen.
Reasons he would end up here: He could easily find a job close to his family and have more time to spend with them. He’s good enough of a coach where he could probably win a national title or two.
Reasons he wouldn’t end up here: Cowher strikes me as too much of a competitor. He wants to face the best in the business, which is the NFL.
My belief – It really depends on what the offer is. Especially if it were coaching his alma mater North Carolina State. But, I don’t think you’ll see it.
Staying retired –
Reasons he would do this: He owes his family a lot of catching up time. There’s no question about his Hall of Fame credentials and he has plenty of money so there’s no reason he has to return.
Reasons he wouldn’t do this: Again, he’s just too competitive. He’ll get bored quickly and will want to return.
My belief – Don’t write this off. A lot of people thought Jimmy Johnson would return to football when he retired from the Dolphins but he never did.
Of course, if Cowher did do this, there would be a lot of disappointed football fans out there.