The Carolina Panthers organization announced earlier today that head coach John Fox and his staff of assistants will not be returning for the 2011-2012 season.
Fox was a polarizing figure throughout his time in Charlotte, attracting many supporters as well as detractors, some of which called for his dismissal prior to this season.
Fox was in the last year of his current contract, and speculation had been running rampant in recent weeks that he would not survive the rest of the season at the helm of the Panthers.
The first signal that Fox may not have a long-term relationship with the Panthers organization came with their refusal to extend his previous contract, which ended in 2008.
As Fox entered the last year of his contract this season he seemed almost resigned to his fate given his press conference comments, as the team limped to a 2-13 start over its first 15 games.
Fox never achieved more than one consecutive winning season while with Carolina, but was a fan favorite and was beloved by coaches and players alike. His demeanor and popularity in the coaching community should allow him to quickly find another opportunity in college or in the NFL.
The Panthers' search for a replacement should be one of the more interesting stories of the 2011 offseason. There are more qualified head coaches available than at any time in recent memory.
One selling point, which the Carolina front office will be sure to use in selling the job, is the fact that the Panthers hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Will Carolina seek out an offensive-minded head coach and accordingly draft a Cam Newton, or if available, an Andrew Luck? Or will they seek out a defensive minded coach similar to Fox?
Only time will tell, but it's a fairly sure thing that John Fox will land on his feet.