The body of the NFL regular season wasn't cold before Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Rod Marinelli were thanked for their work and handed pink slips. Three other coaches were fired during the season and there are probably more to come (cough Wade Phillips cough), all of which makes this one of the bloodiest years on record for men who wear headsets.
There are different reasons behind all the firings, but one common thread At one point or another, from New York to Cleveland to St. Louis and beyond, there will be calls to hire Bill Cowher. Cowher's success in Pittsburgh makes him an obvious choice for any opening. The plethora of desperate franchises gives him a chance to pick his ideal landing spot, and he can demand enough money to make the stress of coaching an appealing alternative to continuing as a TV analyst.
Two teams stand out above the pack: Cowher played and coached for the Browns, and rumors began linking him to the team long before Crennel was sent packing. They won 10 games in 2007, which means they might not need a total renovation to be competitive. The same is true of the Jets. They were 8-3 before slumping to a 9-7 finish, and play a 3-4 defensive scheme that would make Cowher feel right at home.
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The Jets also spent more than $100 million to upgrade the roster before the 2008 season, so they'd likely be willing to spend a little more to get the coach they want. As an added bonus, Cowher's daughter is a student at Princeton, close to the Jets' New Jersey stadium and headquarters.
The only wrench in the works could be the possible availability of Bill Parcells. Parcells has an out clause in his Dolphins contract that he can exercise because the team was sold this season. The remarkable turnaround in Miami and Parcells' willingness to walk away from jobs that are half done means that someone will take a run at hiring him to run their football operations. If he does entertain other offers, it could close off avenues for Cowher.
It won't close off all of them, though, and Cowher's going to have a lot of leverage because of fan bases agitating for a coach with his record. Cowher has reportedly told the Browns that he isn't coming back to coach. Time (and money) will tell. If the next NFL season starts with Cowher yukking it up with Boomer Esiason, it will only be because Cowher didn't want to return to coaching.