Sometimes it’s written down on a piece of paper and sitting in a desk drawer. In today’s world, there’s likely some on laptops or a Blackberry. A few are committed to memory.
But every general manager or owner in the NFL has one – a ready list for hiring his next head coach.
At some point in time, every NFL team is going to be out looking for a new man to fill their head coaching position. Some clubs tend to go for long periods of time with very few changes. The Steelers have had three head coaches in the last 42 years – Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. In that same time frame, the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts have had 16 different head coaches. The San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons counted 14 different men in charge.
A head coaching change will come to a majority of the league’s 32 teams in the next three years. As the NFL is set to begin another season, who are the likely names on the ready lists to become a head coach? We’ve limited our list to those men who are currently assistant coaches in the league, since the majority of current head coaches come from the coaching staff ranks. Guys like Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (left). Only Tom Coughlin of the Giants, Mike Shanahan of the Redskins and Pete Carroll with the Seahawks did not move from a coordinator or assistant coach position into their current jobs.
Here’s one man’s opinion on the top 10 NFL assistants to keep your eyes on during this ’10 season and more importantly, once the GMs and owners pull out those ready lists. They are listed in alphabetical order:
Darrell Bevell, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator – at the age of 40, Bevell is younger than his starting quarterback Brett Favre by three months. One of the reasons Favre wanted to return to the Vikings last season was the presence of Bevell, who worked with him for six seasons with the Packers (offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach.) It was at Northern Arizona and then Wisconsin that Bevell played quarterback for current Vikings head coach Brad Childress and he led the Badgers to the school’s first Rose Bowl victory after the 1993 season. Bevell has 15 years in coaching starting in 1996 at Westmar University in LeMars, Iowa as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He then spent three more seasons on the college level before joining the Packers in 2000. He moved to the Vikings in 2006 when Childress was named head coach.
Todd Bowles, Miami Dolphins assistant head coach/secondary coach (right) – Two years ago during the post-season interview period, Bowles drew some attention and got the chance to talk with several teams (Lions, Broncos, Rams) about their head coaching jobs. That elevated the profile of a guy who played for eight seasons and has coached for the last 14 seasons, beginning with three seasons in the college ranks at Morehouse and Grambling. He moved back to the NFL in 2000 with the Jets, spent time in Cleveland and became part of Bill Parcells staff in Dallas as the secondary coach for four years (2005-08) and moved on to Miami in 2008 when Parcells took over control of the football operation with the Dolphins. He’s 46 years old
Keith Butler, Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach – It’s hard to argue with the type of performance levels that Butler has helped coax from the Steelers linebackers since he landed at Heinz Field in 2003. Working for Bill Cowher and now Mike Tomlin, Butler has coached Joey Porter, Clark Haggans, James Farrior, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley who have all been among the league’s best linebackers. The Steelers also won a pair of Super Bowl trophies. Butler played 10 seasons in the NFL with Seattle, where he ranks second on the team’s all-time tackles list. He spent nine years working at the college level (Memphis, Arkansas State) before landing with the Browns in 1999, and then four years later with Pittsburgh. Butler is 54 years old.
Pete Carmichael, New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator
(left) – Assistant coaches on Super Bowl teams get a push in the fight for head coaching jobs and that’s true with Carmichael. He’s spent the last five years working for the Saints and head coach Sean Payton. He arrived in 2006 and worked closely with QB Drew Brees and helped establish Payton’s offensive philosophy. Not bad for a guy who didn’t play college football; instead he was a four-year letterman in baseball at Boston College. He began his football coaching career in 1994 at the University of New Hampshire. After five years in the college game, he moved to the Cleveland Browns in 2000, joined Marty Schottenheimer’s staff with the Redskins in 2001 and ended up in San Diego for four years working for Schottenheimer. He’s 38 years old.
Rob Chudzinski, San Diego Chargers assistant head coach/tight ends coach – While playing at the University of Miami, he was part of two national championship teams starting at tight end during the 1989 season. He also began his coaching career with the Hurricanes, starting in 1994 as a graduate assistant and working his way up to three seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator (2001-03). The Ohio native joined the Cleveland Browns for the 2004 season as tight ends coach and then spent two years on Schottenheimer’s staff in San Diego handling the tight ends. In 2007, Cleveland head coach Romeo Crennel hired him as offensive coordinator. After Crennel and his staff were fired, Chudzinski returned to the Chargers. He’s 42 years old.
Greg Manusky, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator (right) – It has not taken the former Chiefs linebacker long to rise in the NFL coaching world, something that does not come as a surprise to many of the coaches he played for during his 11 NFL seasons. After retiring as a player following the ’99 season, two years later Manusky joined Schottenheimer’s staff with the Redskins in 2001, and then went west to the Chargers for five seasons (2002-06) and landed then in San Francisco as the coordinator, just seven years into his coaching career. As the Niners have improved in the last two seasons, so has Manusky’s profile as a potential head coach. He’s 44 years old.
Brett Maxie, Dallas Cowboys secondary/safeties coach – After a 13-year playing career in the NFL, Maxie has now pulled together a 13-year coaching career working with defensive backs. He started with Carolina in 1998 and then moved on to San Francisco, Miami and then Dallas in 2008. Maxie has had the chance to work with defensive backs like Terence Newman, DeAngelo Hall and Tony Parrish. He’s 48 years old.
Winston Moss, Green Bay Packers assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach – Former NFL linebacker who played 11 seasons for the Buccaneers, Raiders and Seahawks. It was in Seattle where Moss got his first coaching job in ’98 as part of the defensive staff. He moved on to New Orleans for six seasons where he coached linebackers. He joined the Packers in 2006 and has been part of Mike McCarthy’s staff since, picking up the assistant head coach designation before the 2007 season. Moss has interviewed several times with Al Davis on the Raiders head coaching job. Luckily for him, he did not get the job. He’s 44 years old.
Brian Schottenheimer, New York Jets offensive coordinator – There seems little question that Brian will become an NFL head coach, following in the footsteps of his father. Earlier this year, the Buffalo Bills wanted to interview him for their open job, but since the Jets were wrapped up in a run to the AFC Championship Game, he declined. Schottenheimer began his coaching career after his playing days at the University of Florida ended. Dick Vermeil opened the door in 1997 hiring him as an offensive assistant. The next year he worked for his father with the Chiefs and then spent the 1999 season at Syracuse University and then 2000 at Southern Cal. He rejoined his old man in 2001 with the Redskins and moved to San Diego for four seasons as quarterbacks coach. In 2006, he was hired by Eric Mangini to be the Jets offensive coordinator. He’s 36 years old.
Kyle Shanahan, Washington Redskins offensive coordinator – At the age of 30, Shanahan has established without any doubt his credentials as an NFL coach go far beyond his last name. He’s gone to work for his father as the Redskins offensive coordinator this season, but that’s a role he filled for two years with the Houston Texans. He also spent time with the Texans as wide receivers and then quarterbacks coaches. Entrance to NFL coaching came in 2004 when he spent two years with Tampa Bay as offensive quality control coach. Shanahan is just 30 years old.
NFL PERSONNEL & FOOTBALL NEWS FILE FOR WEDNESDAY, JULY 21
- JURISPRUDENCE – Seahawks LB Leroy Hill was in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on the domestic violence charge he faces in Seattle. Already suspended by the NFL for one game for violating the substance abuse rules, Hill could face more discipline pending the outcome of this charge.
- COLLEGE – Alabama DT Marcell Dareus has been declared ineligible after an NCAA investigation into his involvement with a Miami Beach party that was staged and paid for by several agents. Alabama will petition for his reinstatement and the NCAA will determine his eligibility to play in the 2010 season … Georgia officials confirmed on Wednesday that they’ve received notification from the NCAA about the start of an investigation similar to the ones going on at North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama.
- BEARS – signed supplemental draft choice RB Harvey Unga to a 4-year, $1,850,000 contract with a $60,000 signing bonus – he could be a specialist in ’10 for Chicago’s offense; released WR Vic Hall and DT Jimmy Saddler-McQuinn – both players were undrafted rookie free agents.
- COLTS – signed 7th-round draft choice CB Ray Fisher to a 4-year, $1,830,000 contract with a $42,000 signing bonus – at Indiana University, he played both offense and defense and he’ll get a double shot with Indianapolis along with returning punts and kickoffs.
- COWBOYS – signed 6th-round draft choice CB Jamar Wall to a 4-year contract – Wall comes out of the Texas tech program where he was considered an underachiever.
- FALCONS – C Jeremy Newberry announced his retirement from the game. He played 11 years in the NFL, but has been dealing with knee injuries for several seasons.
- JAGUARS – signed 6th-round CB Scotty McGee to a 4-year, $1,880,000 contract – the Division I-AA product out of James Madison, McGee was a top returner in the college ranks, including six returns for TDs; claimed WR John Matthews on waivers from the Colts.
- PATRIOTS – signed 7th-round draft choice QB Zac Robinson to a 4-year, $1,828,000 contract with a $37,000 signing bonus – out of Oklahoma State, he has a chance to stick as the No. 3 QB in New England; signed 7th-round draft choice DT Kade Weston to a 4-year, $1,830,000 contract with a $40,000 signing bonus – the University of Georgia product was not always productive, finishing his last season with 28 tackles and two sacks.
- RAVENS – released C Digger Bujnoch – a first-year player out of the University of Cincinnati, he was with Baltimore all through the off-season work.
- STEELERS – signed OL Adrian Jones – former member of the Chiefs, he was signed to a 1-year contract as an injury replacement for OT Willie Colon, who went to the injured-reserve list because of an Achilles injury.
- TITANS – signed 5th-round draft choice S Robert Johnson to a 4-year, $1,980,000 million contract with a $189,000 signing bonus – coming out of Utah, Johnson will have to fight hard to find playing time in the Tennessee defense as a rookie.