Denver Broncos Head Coaching Carousel Spins Quickly; Who Are the Candidates?

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Denver Broncos Head Coaching Carousel Spins Quickly; Who Are the Candidates?
Pat Bowlen gave John Elway the Broncos reigns Wednesday. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski)

In Broncos history, 2010 was a year to forget but never be forgotten.

Denver's football franchise fell further (and harder) than a boulder breaking off Pike's Peak.

Practically the only positives were the firing of Josh McDaniels and Tim Tebow's exciting play at the end of the season.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Or is it out with the old, in with the old?

As 2011 was rung in only a week ago, hope was brought back to the Broncos with the hiring of John Elway as vice president of football operations.

The Duke of Denver is legendary in the Centennial State for his accomplishments on the field. Off the field, he's more of an unknown entity.

But Elway is a sports celebrity; his football ties run deep, and players will likely want to play under him. He inspires today's players with pep talks and can share personal stories of overcoming adversity.

But in his first week heading the Broncos, the team seems further from landing their next head coach than they were before Elway's arrival.

On Monday, Elway seemed to have an ace up his sleeve, acting as Stanford's honorary captain for the Orange Bowl and seemingly sneaking in a chat with the hottest head coaching candidate, Jim Harbaugh.

But Elway and Harbaugh didn't meet. The head coach was too busy winning his bowl game and talking with Michigan, the 49ers and Dolphins to consider the Broncos a viable option—even with Elway's Stanford connection.

Other possible coaches initially included Mike Mularkey, Perry Fewell and Gregg Williams.

Mularkey, the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, decided instead to cancel his interview with the Broncos that was supposed to happen Friday. Mularkey said he wanted to focus on coaching and would interview after the playoffs, but he is still going to interview for the Browns head coaching position.

Broncos GM Brian Xanders, who is working closely with Elway in the coaching search, spoke today about what the men are looking for in their next head coach.

Xanders explained, “[We're] looking for a leader of men, that drives the whole team forward in a common direction. He needs to fit fans, community, embrace the heritage of the Broncos.

“John and I want a guy that has done it before but that is not the determining factor. Rivera is on the list. Gregg Williams is on the list—we respect coaches that are driving forward for their teams.”

And while Mularkey and Harbaugh are no longer being pursued by Elway and the Broncos, Fewell, Williams and Ron Rivera are all possibilities. Also, ex-Broncos coaches Jim Fassel and Rick Dennison have entered the fold.

John Elway tweeted today at 3:03 p.m. MT, "It’s a very busy and exciting time. Also in the process of refining our candidate list to determine who we'll speak with next week."

Here's a quick breakdown of each potential next Denver Broncos head coach.

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