Don't leave us, Mike, we were just getting to know ya!
After a tumultuous two and a half year stint as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Mike Singletary, the sometimes lovable, sometimes baffling, always feisty Hall of Famer, was recently sacked.
The Niners were in such a hurry to make a change, they couldn't even wait until the end of the regular season, letting him go after a Week 16 loss to the St. Louis Rams that officially eliminated the Niners from playoff contention. They then moved quickly to sign the popular Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh, fresh off an Orange Bowl winning, 12-1 season for the Cardinal, to start a new era for the once proud franchise.
But what of Iron Mike? We need those sideline outbursts! We need those postgame rants! Where will we find them in 2011? It doesn't look like he's currently in position for another head job, but here are some educated guesses at what he might be in line for.
This move would be more of a quirky coincidence.
It would essentially amount to Stanford and the 49ers trading head coaches. Singletary being fired gave Harbaugh an opening to jump to the pros, and Harbaugh jumping to the pros could give Singletary an opening to move down to the college level.
He can refine his head coaching skills a bit before trying to make the jump back to the next level. And his old school, tough guy style might play more at the college level, where the kids are more coachable than the men in the NFL.
The Cardinal had been rumored to have interest in Boise State head man Chris Petersen, who now looks more likely to stay put in Idaho. So whaddya think, Mike? You wouldn't even have to move.
The situation in Denver remains up in the air.
The Broncos are looking to revamp just about everything after cutting ties with Josh McDaniels midseason. Denver legend and new vice president of football operations John Elway has a mandate to make the team better.
As a Stanford man himself, he would've liked a chance to add Jim Harbaugh (wouldn't everybody), but that's now off the table. More recently, ex-Panthers coach John Fox interviewed for the Denver vacancy earlier today. And he's a strong possibility.
But if Elway really wanted to shake things up, he could go in the direction of Singletary, if not for the lead role, then as one of the assistants. Mike would certainly try to instill some of the discipline the Broncos have been lacking of late.
Speaking of a team that has lacked discipline.
The Cowboys fell apart this year, and much of the fiasco has been blamed on the fact that the team simply didn't listen to or respect the coaching staff under Wade Phillips enough to take things seriously.
That culture seemed to shift for the better once Jason Garrett was installed as the head coach, and the Cowboys finished 5-3 after starting 1-7. Owner Jerry Jones confirmed Garrett the other day as the official head man going forward, but there are still vacancies on the defensive coaching staff.
Singletary, despite his oftentimes prickly public demeanor, is still well liked and respected around the league, and his old school mentality might go over well with an old school owner like Jones and a traditional fan base like in Dallas.
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, formerly head coach in Buffalo, is widely considered to be head coach material at some point again in the near future.
If Tom Coughlin's staff does lose Fewell, it would be losing a significant coaching talent. Once the team got comfortable with Fewell's schemes, they helped Big Blue's defense make major improvements from last season. Being more healthy helped too, but still, the Giants would like to retain his services.
If they can't, Singletary is certainly a defensive minded coach and has the street cred as one of the game's great linebackers to make defenses listen.
Finally, if there's another coach that would work well with Coughlin's crusty and curmudgeonly style, it's Mike.
Ron Rivera has officially been named the new head coach for the Carolina Panthers.
It's the culmination of a long journey for him, and he deserves the shot. But he leaves behind large shoes to fill as the defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, the league's top rated defense this past season.
(Side note, how did the Chargers lead the league in offense and defense and still not make the playoffs? Has that ever happened before?)
Singletary was teammates with Rivera on the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears and might be a good fit to replace him with the Bolts.
It's a team that already has a lot of talent, and he wouldn't have to change too much. The question is if his style would clash too much with incumbent head coach Norv Turner?
Mike Holmgren still hasn't decided what he's going to do in Cleveland.
While he waits to make up his mind, other coaching vacancies are being filled all across the league, and he's running out of options. It doesn't look like the big names like Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden are going anywhere right now, so that leaves him with less choices than he'd like.
One option to fill some spot on the staff is Singletary. With a long and illustrious history as an offensive and quarterbacks guys, Holmgren could groom someone to manage the offensive game plan and hand the reins of the defense over to Singletary.
He'd certainly get more of a chance to leave his personal mark, and remake the defense in his image, here than many other places where the system is more established. Cleveland is still looking for their identity.
I dove into the situation swirling around the Titans last week.
The gist of it is that everyone on the coaching staff is out, other than Jeff Fisher, and in the last year of his current contract, Fisher has to be scrambling to do something that will fix things fast. Owner Bud Adams has grown tired of the lackluster results.
Enter Mike Singletary? Despite mixed results of his rah-rah attitude in the Bay Area, perhaps it would play better in Nashville. He certainly wouldn't be the worst option they could consider.
With as muddled as that situation is, though, would he even want to go there?
Wouldn't this be an interesting story?
Singletary, of course, is still beloved in the Windy City as one of the heroes of the Bears team that dominated defensively under coach Mike Ditka and won the Super Bowl in 1985. He'd be returning home, in a way.
Current coach Lovie Smith has molded this Bears team to fit his own defensive style, and with weapons like Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers, getting to help out in a defensive coordinator or linebackers coach role wouldn't be the worst place for Singletary.
There might not be an opening for him now, but who's to say they wouldn't make room for him on their staff if he expressed a desire to join them?
Singletary would make a great fit on TV.
He's already a popular favorite, not just of the sports shows on ESPN and the like, but his personality has transcended football, and he has gotten major play on entertainment shows like The Late Show with David Letterman as well.
He's a guy who has three things going for him that would fit perfectly as a studio guy on some pregame show. First, he's got a big personality. Second, he's already known and loved by football fans around the country. And third, he's got a big personality.
Whether his...ah...intensity would be a good fit for that kind of a setting remains to be seen, but if nothing on the coaching end fits the bill, it wouldn't hurt to give this a try.
Numerous reports have already linked Singletary to the Vikings.
He's good friends with Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier, another of his former teammates with the 1985 Bears. And the Vikings could certainly use some help establishing Frazier's new regime in the Metrodome...or wherever they end up playing next year.
Singletary would be interviewing for the position of linebackers coach, a position that the former linebacker would obviously be well suited for. And while it's certainly a significant step down from being a head coach, perhaps it's the best thing in the end, for now.
I'd say the best bet is that we see Mike Singletary in purple and gold next year.