An Owners Dilemma: The Search for the Next Carolina Panthers Coach
Jerry Richardson is one of the most respected men in the NFL. As a player and as an owner, Jerry Richardson has done some incredible things, namely, bringing a franchise to the Carolinas.
Then, he got that franchise to a Super Bowl in its ninth year. A promise he made in the early '90s of getting the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl within its first decade, he kept.
With John Fox entering the last year of his contract, the recovering Richardson has options, and if I were Jerry Richardson, here are the options I'd pursue.
It's hard to remember a name being mentioned as the next coach for a franchise more than Bill Cowher has been for the Carolina Panthers, and with good reason.
The logical connections Cowher has with the organization, be it his residence, the familial connections to Wofford College, where the president of the Panthers attended, as does Bill's daughter.
All that aside, Bill Cowher is an excellent coach. He didn't win a Super Bowl until late in his run at Pittsburgh, arguably because he never had a quarterback capable of winning the big game.
Once he got all the pieces in place, he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
He will be forever remembered for his postgame press conference in which he stated, "Hello! You play to win the game." He was absolutely correct.
He is also a very talented coach, who has achieved good things, and with the right pieces around him he could accomplish many more.
His time in Kansas City can neither be dismissed nor forgotten, but Kansas City was in turmoil then that it is just now coming out of.
Herm Edwards can lead a franchise and can lead men. He may just be the guy to lead the Carolina Panthers to a Lombardi Trophy.
The man they call "Chucky" has been mentioned a few times when the Carolina job has been discussed. Gruden is a good coach, but he's had his share of quarterback issues in Tampa.
In Carolina, that problem would be the same for a year or two, but it would be corrected, then Gruden would have his guy and he could go to work.
A few interviews and meetings of the minds would decide if Gruden would be the ideal fit for Carolina. It's hard to imagine him not working out in Charlotte, though.
Ken Norton, Jr.
Ken Norton, Jr., isn't exactly full of NFL coaching experience, but he has coached several NFL players, and coaches with a fire and passion that is hard to match.
He can lead men, and I truly believe he will be a successful head coach at either level. He would inherit a tough defense with a solid linebacking corps. He could tweak what needs tweaking and in a few years have a team truly ready to contend.
His inexperience at the NFL level as a coach may be a problem, but he has played the game and does know the NFL. If he wouldn't be the hire, he would without a doubt be worthy of the interview.
I realize that he's the head coach in Arizona. Money talks, and contracts come and go. In the NFL, which is progressively becoming a pass-happy league, an offensive-minded guy like Whisenhunt could do in Carolina what he did in Arizona. He could change the culture.
The Cardinals were a low on the ladder team, but he's taken them to a Super Bowl and has them back in the playoffs this season, as well. There are very few limitations to what he could do for the Panthers.
Who Could It Be?
The coaching changes sure to come in Carolina will pose a challenge to all involved. Some fans will mourn the departure of John Fox. Others will mourn the hiring of a new coach who isn't who they would have hired.
The possibilities are endless, as are the results. Only time will tell what happens in Carolina. The only thing for certain is that for those in Carolina it'll be a bumpy ride, and for those outside, it just might be fun to watch.