Whenever head-coaching vacancies are mentioned in the NFL, certain names immediately come to the forefront:
Jon Gruden, Tony Dungy, Brian Billick, Mike Holmgren and---oh yeah---Bill Cowher.
It's a who's who of has-beens, or at least former coaches who made their mark in the league and now are tossed into the mix anytime an NFL team so much as contemplates firing their coach.
And yet the buzz around Cowher---normally one of the most popular coaches to speculate about---has been nearly non-existent. This is pretty much what is known, via Cindy Boren of The Washington Post:
Cowher, who left the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006 after coaching for 14 seasons, was mentioned in connection with the Philadelphia Eagles’ vacancy, but CSN Philly.com reports that the Eagles have no plans to interview him. Cowher, 55, played for the Eagles in 1983 and 1984 and has been with CBS since 2007.
Why the lack of news surrounding Cowher? Have hot names in the college ranks like Chip Kelly and Bill O’Brien pushed Cowher out of the coaching spotlight? Have hot coordinators like Mike McCoy and Bruce Arians finally convinced NFL teams that the popular list of former coaches isn't the best option?
Or is the possibility that Cowher will only come back to coach the Carolina Panthers at play here? Is his name irrelevant in the coaching carousal since the Panthers haven't fired Ron Rivera yet?
It's no secret that Cowher has been linked to the Panthers job for quite some time now, considering he lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Perhaps he has one job in mind, and otherwise will be quite content remaining a well-paid CBS analyst.
Of course, there is plenty going around that isn't heard about. So it's possible Cowher has fielded plenty of calls that are unknown to the public. It's a little hard to believe---given he's such a high-profile name---but you never know.
Although, the optimist in me likes to think that NFL teams are starting to think outside the box a little bit with their coaching hires. Perhaps the league has represented the changing tides of the NFL, and isn't content to bring back old names to try to navigate changing offensive schemes and styles of play popularized at the college level.
Perhaps now Cowher no longer represents the best option, only one of the biggest names.
It's hard to say. The NFL has always been a copycat league—which is why cutting-edge football minds like Kelly and McCoy are so popular—but it has always recycled coaches and coordinators.
So far, the lack of buzz surrounding Cowher is a point for the new school. But, it is still possible the old school habits of the league win out in the end.