Early Handicapping of The Head Coaching Derby

January 03, 2008 |


For the first time in almost a decade, the Baltimore Ravens are searching for a new Head Coach in the NFL marketplace.  If we can all agree that it’s time to “move forward” from the acrimony and perceived double-crossing that surrounded Monday’s events at 1 Winning Drive, then as fans it’s time to think about “The List” that Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass and Ozzie Newsome are compiling to identify the next Head Coach.

From my perspective, which is solely as an outsider to the inner workings and sources of the franchise, I’ve identified three separate categories of potential successors.  Again, I have absolutely zero sources available to me other than what’s available to all of us by just browsing the internet.  But I’ve definitely made up my mind as to which category I’d like to see the third Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens come from.  Actually, now that I think about it, I’m going to add a fourth category: Wild Cards (in honor of the upcoming NFL Wild Card Weekend).  So count me down as two possible categories I’d be in favor of.

Without further rambling, here are the categories:

The Retreads:  Bill Cowher (50) – Currently not coaching –  There has been an awful lot of conjecture and speculation surrounding whether or not Bisciotti and Cowher have met, played golf, spent a weekend in the owner’s luxury box, etc.  Personally, I’ve always had issues with Cowher’s coaching, and not because of the image and the spitting.  This guy LOST a lot of crucial games ON HIS HOME FIELD when the stakes were extremely high.  Think about it: for all his success, the thing that always drove Steelers fans nuts was falling one game short in the end.  That’s what made his journey to Super Bowl XL so surreal.  It took him fourteen years to finally win one, and they did it on the road.  But the simple fact that he was THE enemy coach for so long should cast considerable doubt on his potential hiring.  Bisciotti’s too much of a fan to go here.  He knows how difficult a sell Cowher would be to the long-term- memory football fans of Baltimore.  ODDS: 8-1

Marty Schottenheimer (64) – Currently not coaching –  If you grew weary of Billick’s playcalling, how long do you honestly think it would take to get sick of MartyBall?  One preseason game?  Two?  ODDS: 50-1

Jim Fassel (54) – Currently not coaching –  O.K., sorry, just throwing it out there.  Hey, Peter King mentioned him in a column, so obviously the guy’s telling his agent to find him some work.  Seriously, how funny/sad/ironic would it be if Ozzie hired him after Billick canned him mid-season last year?  And while we’re totally hypothesizing, let’s pretend Fassel turns Boller into a 30 TD QB next year while winning a Super Bowl.  Talk about dream scenarios!  Now THAT’S comedy!  ODDS: 1 Billion-1

Mike Tice (48) – Assistant Head Coach/Offense, Jacksonville –  Not that crazy when you think about it.  Tice certainly endured his share of trials and tribulations as HC in Minnesota, but he did manage to keep them competitive and interesting.  His ties to College Park can’t hurt with a TerpFan like Bisciotti.  An intriguing notion, but ultimately too risky.  This is the guy who commanded the Vikings during a certain boat trip, if memory serves correctly.  Imagine what could happen on the Bay Lady this May after Minicamp.  We could only be so lucky!  ODDS: 25-1

The College Guys:

I’m going to start here by giving you two names: O.K., three:  Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier.  Let that be Ozzie’s guide when considering a move like this.  It’s not just opinion, it’s fact: College coaches cannot handle NFL players.  The money and motivation is just too difficult to overcome.  There is no absolute authority in being head coach in the NFL as compared to college.  So, with that being said, here’s hoping I don’t read about an “incredible meeting” with either of these guys.

Kirk Ferentz (52) – Head Coach, Iowa Hawkeyes –  A man with deep ties to this organization, there was speculation that Ferentz would be hired as the new Offensive Coordinator before Billick got canned.  His age is not a factor, and his familiarity with Ozzie and the scouts could be a plus.  But again, he’s been away from the NFL for a few years now, and that adjustment could prove difficult.  But I think he’s got lots of credibility with this organization.  Could be a factor.  And his roots make a good P.R. sell.  ODDS: 7-1

Jeff Jagodzinski (44) – Head Coach, Boston College Eagles –  I honestly don’t know enough about him to make any kind of statement.  Let’s just say that if he’s brought in, we’ll all find out a lot more about him very quickly.  But one or two years as head coach in the ACC does not make a compelling case to take over a locker room with Ray Lewis & Co.  A REAL long shot, I’d think.  ODDS:  35-1

The Current NFL Assistants

So now we’re at the group I think produces the next Head Coach.  These coaches vary in ages and sides of the ball; some are just beginning to rise in NFL circles, while others would probably view this as their best opportunity to ever be a Head Coach.  Because this category has the most candidates, I’m going to list them by my preference to get the job.  Hey, it’s my list.  You can comment below.  You can also figure out that the guy at the top of this list is the guy I’d like to see get the job.

Jason Garrett (41) – Offensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys

Rex Ryan (45) – Defensive Coordinator, Baltimore Ravens

Jim Schwartz (41) – Defensive Coordinator, Tennessee Titans

Josh McDaniels (31) – Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots

Tony Sparano (46) – Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line, Dallas Cowboys

Russ Grimm (51) – Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line, Arizona Cardinals

Mike Singletary (49) – Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers, San Francisco 49ers

Again, I believe this is the category that should produce a potentially excellent Head Coach.  An inner working knowledge of the pro game is vital to success.  The best conditioned to survive the pressures of the job will come from these ranks.  Here’s hoping Ozzie & Co. agree.  ODDS: 3-1 For Anyone In The Group

The “Unknown Assistant Long Shot” or “The Mike Tomlin Look-A-Like”

Pittsburgh took a real chance last year and hired a guy NONE of us knew about.  Now they’re hosting a Wild Card game this Saturday night at home with practically the same core players that went 8-8 under Cowher last year.  So, if it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander, right?  And let’s face it, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  You know as well as I that competitors in any business always try to learn from each other.  If not, you wouldn’t have dollar menus ate every fast food drive thru, would you?  So as much as it may pain the true Raven loyalist in all of us, you can be certain that the coaching model for success that the Rooney family has used is being studied intently by Steve Bisciotti.

As to who goes on this list, I’m just going to guess at a couple of names of guys who may get a call based on their “rising” status: Mark Carrier, Dennis Thurman and Donnie Henderson.  Again, I’m guessing.  But don’t be too surprised if the Ravens dig deep into the coaching staffs of a few teams to try a discover the next head coaching jewel.  ODDS: 15-1

So there you have it.  My soon-to-be-proven-terribly-wrong list of potential candidates for the Third Head Coach in Baltimore Ravens history.  Who did I miss?  Am I way off base in wanting a younger, on the rise assistant?  Is there a dark horse you’d like to nominate?

In the words of “Coffee Talk’s” Linda Richman: