The Houston Texans unceremoniously fired head coach Gary Kubiak on Friday. After losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a second time on the season, Texans owner Bob McNair reached his breaking point.
Now Houston finds itself the first team in the NFL coaching hunt. Here is a list of potential coaches and names that will be batted around during the search’s infancy.
Calling in Vain
Tony Dungy - The former Colts and Buccaneers head coach enjoys his life in the media. Dungy has transitioned into an ambassador for football, and is a mentor for players. Everybody calls and Dungy politely declines. This job will be the same.
Bill Cowher - Like Dungy, Cowher appears to enjoy his role as a media member. He hasn’t coached since 2006, so this is another long-shot.
The Beautiful Banana
Jon Gruden - “Mr. Spider 2 Y Banana” will undoubtedly be mentioned, especially after Pat Haden revealed that Chuckie only has eyes for the NFL. It’s hard to see Jon Gruden coming back unless a team is one or two pieces from a title. Houston may be that, but they are in the hunt for a new quarterback. Gruden doesn’t like young quarterbacks, so that may prevent him from taking this gig.
Lovie Smith - Smith was fired from the Bears after going 10-6, he has coached in a Super Bowl, and is a defensive savant. The Texans’ current makeup resembles the team Lovie left in Chicago: excellent defense, respectable skill players, and a question mark at quarterback.
Greg Roman - Roman has had suitors in the past, but San Francisco’s offensive struggles this year may hamper his popularity.
Dan Quinn - Quinn coaches one of the top defenses in the NFL with Seattle, and could be a great compliment to the Texans’ strong defensive unit.
Mike Zimmer - It seems like Zimmer interviews for jobs every year. Will this be the year he leaves his defensive coordinator post at Cincinnati?
Rooney Rule: College Edition
David Shaw - Shaw has carried on what Jim Harbaugh started at Stanford. He runs a pro-style program, is a class-act, and has NFL coaching experience.
Charlie Strong - Strong is well-respected in the football world, and knows how to maximize the potential of players. Strong has no NFL coaching experience, but he does have the endorsement of Tony Dungy. Strong and Bridgewater reuniting in Houston? It’s a possibility.
Kevin Sumlin - He just signed an extension with A&M, but contracts don’t matter when the NFL is involved. He’s young, a players coach and is already beloved in the state of Texas.
Nick Saban - He’s on every other coaching list. Why not the Texans – if for no reason other than to watch ‘Bama and Texas enter a bidding war with an NFL team. It’s also fun to see Tide fans squirm with every opening.
Jack Del Rio - The Notorious JDR has done well in relief of John Fox this season with the Broncos. Del Rio also knows the division well, having coached nine seasons in Jacksonville. Factor in a coaching tree that includes Mike Ditka and Bill Belichick, and Del Rio is probably the clubhouse leader right now.
It’s only December. This list will expand and contract as more coaches go on and off the market. For now, look for these names to be mentioned in some fashion.