5 Viable Candidates for Kansas City Chiefs' Head Coaching Job

Derek EstesCorrespondent IDecember 18, 2011

5 Viable Candidates for Kansas City Chiefs' Head Coaching Job

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    The Kansas City Chiefs fired Todd Haley on Monday, and in doing so, opened the floodgates of speculation for who will be the next head coach in Arrowhead Stadium.

    Nearly every available coach's name popped up this week as a potential fit for Kansas City. The "duh, big red truck" (i.e. it's obvious, like a big red truck that's about to run you over) possibilities like Romeo Crennel popped up quickly.

    A couple "retired" options like Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, Jon Gruden or Jeff Fisher quickly joined the list, despite Cowher's apparent reluctance to become a coach again or Gruden's recent contract extension with ESPN.

    The prospect of expanding the Bill Belichick/New England coaching tree came up again with Josh McDaniels, though this writer's impression from Michael Holley's book War Room leads me to believe too little comfort exists between Scott Pioli and McDaniels for Pioli to choose a head coach with so little NFL experience the second time around.

    That said, here's a look at five coaches who could spend a lot of time on Kansas City's sidelines next year.

Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Coordinator / Interim Head Coach

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    Romeo Crennel presents the most logical option for Kansas City's current head coaching opening. His steady, even-keel personality runs contrary to Todd Haley's volatile demeanor.

    Players have a history of improving their play with Crennel; Derrick Johnson finally blossomed under Crennel's tutelage, and Shaun Smith went from NFL afterthought to steady performer in 2010.

    Crennel would also provide continuity for the developing Chiefs. The youth movement Herm Edwards initiated bore some fruit the last couple years, and Scott Pioli continued these efforts by focusing on rebuilding through the draft. Promoting Crennel would help maintain some consistency in scheme and coaching staff despite the turbulent situation.

    Crennel also comes with a couple question marks. Crennel's previous head coaching stint proved short lived with only three years at the helm of the Browns. However, Cleveland lacked marquis talent across the board when he took over, and his general manager did little to correct that problem.

    And while elevating Crennel to head coach would keep the defense in a good place, Kansas City must address their offensive scheme. If Kansas City wants Crennel to succeed, he'll need an accomplished offensive coordinator who can be given a free hand in running his side of the ball.

    If the Chiefs can find an adequate pairing similar to Jim Caldwell and Tony Dungy in Indianapolis, Pioli should proven plenty competent in providing enough talent for Crennel to return Kansas City to the playoffs.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes Head Coach

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    If Kansas City wanted to give a collegiate coach a chance in the NFL, that coach would be Kirk Ferentz.

    Rumored as a potential candidate for head coach in 2009, Ferentz has a long-standing relationship with Scott Pioli and a proven record for developing offensive linemen—one of Kansas City's weakest positions this year.

    Similarly, I believe that Ferentz would likely only enter the NFL if he would be working for Pioli. Ferentz seems to truly enjoy the college ranks and should have job security with Iowa for the foreseeable future. Plus, Ferentz's son enters his senior year at Iowa in 2012; convincing Ferentz to leave before then will take a lot of work.

    In addition to the appeal of coaching his son, Ferentz's lack of NFL experience detracts from the chances of Pioli hiring him to coach the Chiefs.

    Pioli will need a sure thing for Kansas City's next coach; a second coaching bust could bring a premature end to Pioli's GM career.

Bill Cowher, CBS Analyst

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    Bill Cowher represents the crown jewel of available coaches in the NFL.

    The long-time Steelers coach is one of the most successful in NFL history. When Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli talk about duplicating Pittsburgh's team-building approach and success, they're talking about the Cowher era.

    Cowher also has a ready-made fanbase in Kansas City. Prior to being hired by Pittsburgh as their head coach, Cowher worked with Marty Schottenheimer as the Chiefs' defensive coordinator.

    Kansas City would almost certainly want Cowher; Cowher likely doesn't want the Chiefs though.

    Fans shouldn't take it personally. Every time someone attaches Cowher's name with a coaching gig, someone pipes up saying Cowher isn't interested in leaving the broadcast booth.

    Dan Marino is the latest of these; with Miami and Kansas City both firing their coaches last week,  Marino let reporters know he doesn't think Cowher has any desire to resume coaching.

    Not that anyone could really blame him; coaching and NFL team requires more hours, more stress and less money than Cowher's current analyst job for CBS.

    It's too bad, too; Cowher's natural leadership skills and his ability to dissect a team's offense are wasted behind a desk.

Brian Schottenheimer, New York Jets Offensive Coordinator

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    A dark horse for Kansas City could be New York's Brian Schottenheimer.

    This season, the Jets lack some of the offensive production of previous years. But the Jets haven't made it to the AFC championship game two years in a row solely on their defense.

    Schottenheimer comes with a Kansas City pedigree courtesy of his father, Marty. Much like Bill Cowher, he'd likely come to town with strong fan support; he might even have more support than his father because the Jets fared much better in the postseason than Marty ever did.

    Scott Pioli would be rolling the dice if he elected to go with another young head coach, though. With his next hire, he'd do well to hedge his bets and go with a more proven commodity.

    The Dolphins might be glad to hear something along those lines too; the New York Post recently reported that Miami might be interested in bringing Schottenheimer down south.

Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers Head Coach

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    At the end of this season, the San Diego Chargers will likely cut ties with Norv Turner. The offensive coordinator who developed Troy Aikman into a Hall of Fame quarterback lacks similar success as a head coach.

    After short, failed stints with the Redskins and Raiders, Turner inherited Marty Schottenheimer's roster in San Diego. Turner awarded the Chargers with three postseason wins in two years—something Schottenheimer couldn't seal the deal on.

    But now, the Chargers will miss the playoffs for the second straight season, and the Chargers look to be taking steps back rather than forward on their roster.

    Rumors have Turner out of San Diego after this season, which could be nothing but good news for Kansas City.

    Turner is one of the greatest offensive minds in the game; while Kansas City could best use him as an offensive coordinator, he'd bring a serious upgrade to the Chiefs organization as a head coach, too.

    Paired with Romeo Crennel on defense and quality talent in Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles, Turner could take advantage of a fresh start and get the Chiefs back into the playoffs.