Out of the seven vacant NFL head-coaching positions, the one on the sidelines of Soldier Field has to be the most attractive.
The Chicago Bears, who won 10 games in 2012, relieved head coach Lovie Smith of his duties after nine seasons. Smith won 84 games with the Bears, fourth-most in the NFC since he took over in 2004.
In an interview with CBSSports.com, Bears general manager Phil Emery explained why he fired Smith, citing that the Bears' "number one goal always has to be to win championships, and to win championships we have to be in contention on a consistent basis, and to be in contention we have to make the playoffs on a consistent basis," and that the Bears have had "defensive excellence, but during the course of coach Smith's years here, we've had one offense that was ranked in the top fifteen." The Bears have missed the playoffs five of the last six seasons after representing the NFC in Super Bowl XLI in 2006.
According to reports, the Bears will be looking to hire an offensive-minded head coach and have three candidates on their short list: Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.
But could there be a dark horse in the running?
Since retiring after 15 seasons as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, Bill Cowher, now an NFL analyst for CBS, has always downplayed any head-coaching vacancies. And this Bears team is the perfect mold for a Cowher team: Dominant defense (the Bears finished fifth in total defense) and a dominant running game (when healthy, Matt Forte and Michael Bush are one of the best running tandems in the league).
Who will be the Bears coach in 2013?
Is it fate or coincidence that two of Cowher's former assistants (Ken Whisenhunt and Chan Gailey) were fired by their respective teams last week and are looking for work, and that a Pittsburgh Steelers coaches reunion could be possible?
Cowher won 161 games, made the playoffs nine times, had only three losing season and won Super Bowl XL in 2005. He retired at age 49. Nobody thought he would stay away.
It's been six years.
Bill Parcells came out of retirement numerous times. Mike Holmgren is rumored to return to the sidelines. Even Jeff Fisher, who spent 17 years on the sidelines for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise, returned to he sidelines after taking a year off. (Fun fact: Fisher's playing career ended in 1985 after a hit by Cowher broke his leg. The two became AFC coaching rivals. Fischer was 11-9 against Cowher's Steelers.)
The one negative about hiring Cowher the fact that he is a defensive coach. While he is a big name, he is not what the Bears need. The Bears need somebody to boost the offense.
But, sadly for Chicago and NFL fans everywhere, chances of seeing "the jaw" on the sidelines are slim to none.
In an article written by Joe Posnanski in 2011, Cowher bluntly says that he has no plans to return to coaching. "People don't understand," he says. "I'm not coaching. I'm enjoying life more right now than I ever have. I don't miss it enough to go back, I can't predict the future. Maybe someday it will change. But to be quite honest with you, I don't think so."
At his retirement press conference in 2006, he said "I don't think I'm going to miss it as much as some people think I'm going to."
Five years later he said this: "I don't miss it enough to go back."
Would a return for Cowher be incredible? Yes. But is it likely to happen in 2013? Sadly, no.