A Valid Topic for Week Six and the Future

What does the future hold?
Yes. This is a valid topic concerning the next Head Coach for the coming season. Conventional Wisdom dictates that this is not a Week 6 topic, however reality says otherwise for these reasons.

1. A Lame Duck Head Coach whose opinion on what we need to do is simply “play better.” There was no passion or conviction to be found anywhere in the area.

2. 0-5

Well I think that about sums it up. I know David “Dkes” Kessler from carolinagrowl.com and the-sportszone.net, and being my former haunts I can tell you that at these two spots on these internets, thought flows rather randomly (and that is a lot of fun), but as long as I have known Dkes, I have seen nothing but thoughtful logic and clear expression of it, so Dkes richly deserves credit for this analysis, and yes, I think this is a topic that is open for discussion… Our current Head Coach has shown no reason to think otherwise.

There is a famous line from George Bernard Shaw’s play “Back to Methuselah,” that has been ringing in my ears all day today: “You see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?'”

It is in this spirit that I, as a Carolina Panther fan, ask the same question with regards to our future.

Over the past 15-or-so years as a fan, one thing that I have learned is to take the “knowledge” of the local Panthers “beat writers” with a grain of salt. It seems to me that with an organization that guards itself from the media so cautiously, maybe these guys don’t know as much as they claim. Nevertheless, as fans, we have no access to the team except through these stalwarts of the Panther “pressers” (Sorenson, Reed, Fowler, Gantt, et al). As such, we are forced to accept the probability that John Fox will not be the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers beyond this season. With that in mind, and with the spirit of “Why not?”, let’s explore just a few of the possibilities for the upcoming off season.

Bill Cowher

This seems to be the name that comes up the most when discussing who will head up the Panthers next year. It’s been well documented that he has ties to the area. He currently lives in Raleigh, one of his daughters attends Wofford and he exemplifies the standard to which the Panthers strive to emulate. Bill Cowher has a similar football philosophy to John Fox, emphasizing tough team defense, stopping the run and running the ball. The main difference is that Cowher’s Steeler teams have been very creative on offense. While maintaining a conservative offensive philosophy, he has been known for getting playmakers the ball and effectively executing gadget plays.

For the sake of asking “Why not?”, let’s presume (as has been reported) that Cowher will come complete with all the necessary football staff, including his own General Manager. This would also spell the end of the Marty Hurney era. This might be a good thing. Who can deny that the Steelers organization has done a better job with drafting and developing talent than the Panthers ever have? (It has been argued that the John Fox/Hurney Panthers have not developed talent well, if at all). This relationship might work out nicely. But it also reminds me slightly of luring George Seifert out of retirement and making him the HC and GM with a nice healthy paycheck. Oh well…nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“Why not?”

Jon Gruden

This possibility is certainly sexy.

Gruden has expressed his respect for many Panthers players and he seems to enjoy developing quarterbacks. This just might work. He would definitely bring the emphasis on offense that many of us fans so desperately desire. Many of us have grown tired watching Fox “pat fannies” and give his little golf clap after our offense trots off the field following an unsuccessful third-down play or special teams disaster. “Chucky” could certainly change that.

Gruden would bring a demonstrative passion for the game. Not that Fox isn’t passionate about football. Quite the contrary. It’s just that his passion isn’t always evident to the fans. Gruden’s sideline grimaces and antics would help us, as fans, feel that our coach is as invested in the team’s success as we are (let’ s not kid ourselves here….these coaches care waaaayy more than we do, even if it isn’t always apparent).

Gruden should feel fairly motivated to accept this job if offered. He would get to play the Buccaneers twice a year. He would get to coach his favorite all-time player, Steve Smith. He would inherit the running back tandem of “Double Trouble.” He would inherit the Ron Meeks defense that he is so familiar with. It would be an easy transition. Best of all, he would receive a very young team with an early first-round draft pick in 2011.

By taking a failing franchise and returning them to winning form, Gruden could quiet the whispers of “he did it with Dungy’s team.” It might cost the Big Cat a few extra bucks to buy out his ABC/ESPN contract, but you know what I say….

”Why not?”

Bill Parcells

That’s right, I said it. Here’s why.

Recently, Parcells commented that he is ready for his next challenge. He successfully completed his obligation to the Miami Dolphins and has been allowed the freedom to move on. Parcells provided the Dolphins the type of assistance that the Panthers desperately need.

As head of Football Operations, Parcells helped teach others the formula for on-going success in the NFL. He put in place the staff, coaches, players and systems that the organization needed to turn its fortune around. More importantly, he helped develop Jeff Ireland. Theoretically, Ireland now has the tools to identify the talent necessary to keep the ship afloat. If you ask me, I would say that we could definitely benefit from this type of tutelage. If Hurney is to remain with the Panthers, someone needs to help him refine his craft.

In this scenario, Parcells would bring in an up-and-coming coordinator to take over the head coaching duties. This is probably preferable, seeing as how the “Tuna” never stays in one place too long. That being said, he has alluded to the fact that his health is much better now than it was three years ago, hinting at the possibility that he might return to the sidelines.

Hmmm. Parcells as Head Coach of the Panthers? Well…it would look a lot like a John Fox team. Except for one thing…discipline. I must say, I don’t hate the idea. Only one question remains…

”Why not?”

Brian Schottenheimer

Not that one. Marty has already said that he’s not coming back. (Good.)

The other Schottenheimer is most likely on everyone’s short list this off season. Surely, working near his family in nearby Lake Norman would be preferable to the Buffalo job that he turned down last year. For him, it would be a good organization for him to get his head coaching career started. For the Panthers, they would get an offensive-minded head coach, in addition tobeing a former quarterback and quarterbacks coach — Something that might come in handy with the current personnel. Granted it’s not the sexiest of scenarios, but “Why not?”

Jim Harbaugh

It’s about time this guy received an opportunity. He almost had the job with the New York Jets, until they selected Rex Ryan (coincidentally, so did Brian Schottenheimer).

Jim Harbaugh is another offensive-minded coach who has quarterbacking credentials. This guy would work for the same reason that Schottenheimer would, but this fantasy scenario brings an added wrinkle:

“With the 1st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft…The Carolina Panthers select…Andrew Luck.”

I know, I know…we already have our quarterback of the future. For the record, I like Jimmy Clausen and I hope he becomes a Hall of Famer. But if you haven’t heard of Luck, you should look him up. He currently plays for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and some projections tout him the most “sure thing,” since Peyton Manning.

Luck is incredibly smart (as if Stanford didn’t already spell that out); he plays in a pro-style offense (under center and in the shotgun), and he’s prototypical. He’s 6’4”, 235 lbs, and most importantly he doesn’t have small hands (sorry Jimmy…those are freakishly small, “carnie-like” hands). With or without Andrew Luck, Jim Harbaugh might be a great option for the Carolina Panthers.

“Why not?”

Last, but certainly not least — the elephant in the room…

John Fox

Come on, you didn’t think I’d just take those media blow-hards’ word for it, did ya?

Maybe…just maybe…Fox’s best opportunity is right here in Charlotte. Maybe his ego isn’t as bruised as the Panthers’ “beat” writers drum into us. Perhaps he is our best option.

I know…you think I’m crazy.

Consider this: The next coach of the Carolina Panthers will have to take a losing team with no identity and multiple questions at quarterback, and reinvigorate it using one very important, very high draft pick. Unless I’ve gotten my history lessons wrong, the only coach on this list to do that before is John Fox. He’s done it before. Maybe, just maybe…he can do it again.

“Why not?”

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Tags: 2011 Season @THECatCrave Andrew Luck Bill Cowher Bill Parcells Brian Schottenheimer Carolina Panthers FanSided George Seifert Jerry Richardson Jim Harbaugh Jimmy Clausen John Fox Jon Gruden Marty Hurney

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