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Mr. Scot

The Next Head Coach

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After over a hundred pages of discussion in the prior thread, I decided it would be good to pare the discussion down to the five candidates that have the most buzz around them.

Jim Harbaugh - Head Coach, Stanford University

Russ Grimm - Offensive Line Coach / Run Game Coordinator / Assistant Head Coach, Arizona Cardinals

Perry Fewell - Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants

Sean McDermott - Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles

Ron Rivera - Defensive Coordinator, San Diego Chargers

For anyone wanting to revisit the prior discussion, it can be found here: Potential head Coaches

(the initial post contains links to profiles and information posts found throughout the thread to make navigation easier)

Obviously, these five are not the only choices. The next coach could be one of the others discussed previously, or could be someone that we haven't even talked about at all.

Still, for the moment, these are the names that make the most sense.

And so, here we go...again :sosp:


- Per Tom Sorenson, Russ Grimm can be crossed off the list.

- John Czarnecki has suggested that Rob Ryan is a candidate, but there's been nothing to confirm this.

- Local writers have suggested Steelers OC Bruce Arians as a possibility, but no official word on that either.

- Indications are that Jim Harbaugh will not be getting the job, but the reasons why may be subject to debate.

- Greg Manusky's profile is done and can be found here (link)

- Rob Ryan's profile is now up as well (link)


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CURRENT JOB: Head Coach, Stanford University

HISTORY: Stanford Head Coach (2007-present) San Diego University Head Coach (2004-2006) Raiders Offensive Assistant (2002-2003, given title of QB Coach in 2003) Western Kentucky University Volunteer Assistant (1994-2001)

DOB: 12/23/63 (46)

STRENGTHS: Great offensive mind, comes from a coaching family (worked with father Jack at WKU, brother John is head coach of the Baltimore Ravens) Has been on the rise and gotten pro attention (Jets interviewed him before going with Rex Ryan)

QUESTIONS: Minimal pro coaching experience. College coaches haven’t had such a stellar record coming into the NFL lately, and while he’s had some success as a college coach, he hasn’t contended for a national championship just yet


His defensive coordinator is Vic Fangio, the very first DC of the Panthers (under Dom Capers). Harbaugh also employs another coach from the early Panther days. Specifically, Greg Roman, who was a defensive assistant and assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1995 to 2001. And then there’s special teams coach Brian Polian. Three guesses whose son he is.

(ironically enough, one of Bill Polian's first moves with the Colts was to ship Harbaugh out of town)

In addition to that, Harbaugh finished his 15 year pro playing career with the Panthers in 2001 (dressed for six games, no playing time). The Panthers salary cap manager at the time of Harbaugh’s signing was a fellow by the name of Marty Hurney, so you’d expect the two to at least be acquainted. Hurney mentor Bobby Beathard had brought Harbaugh to the Chargers for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. It's quite possible that Beathard suggested acquiring Harbaugh to Hurney in 01. One of the scouts working for Beathard at the time was Don Gregory, now the Panthers Director of College Scouting. Unknown if Gregory and Harbaugh are acquainted. Beathard's son Jeff - then a scout for the Chargers, now one for the Panthers - may also have met Harbaugh a time or two out in San Diego.

Harbaugh is probably more than just "acquainted" with a couple of Panthers assistants. TE Coach Geep Chryst was director of research and quality control for the Chicago Bears from 1991 to 1995. Harbaugh was the Bears starting QB till 1994 when he left for the Colts. He and Chryst were reunited in 1999 when Chryst became the OC for the Chargers. Chryst's Panthers bio (link) includes this blurb:

While with San Diego, Chryst was instrumental in the implementation and development of the team's productive, no-huddle offense. In 1999, the Chargers completed the most passes (332) in 13 years, and quarterback Jim Harbaugh enjoyed the second-highest passing output of his 15-year NFL career and became San Diego's first quarterback since Hall of Famer Dan Fouts to pass for 400 yards in a game.

Harbaugh also has worked with Panthers Strength and Conditioning Coach Jerry Simmons for two seasons. One, of course, was his season with the Panthers in 2001. The other year was 1998, when Simmons was working for the Ravens. Harbaugh spent one season in Baltimore - starting 12 games - right after his four year stint with the Colts. Harbaugh might also have a passing acquaintance with OL Coach Dave Magazu. Magazu was a graduate assistant / coaching intern working with the offensive line at the University of Michigan in 1983, Harbaugh's freshman year. Former Panthers DL Coach and DC Mike Trgovac was also on the Michigan staff in 84 and 85.

Having mentioned the Colts, Harbaugh spent four years playing for them. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson played two years for the Colts. That, of course, was three years before Harbaugh was born, and in Baltimore rather than Indianapolis.

As far as teammates who actually played in the same era, Harbaugh played alongside more than a few guys who also wore a Panthers jersey at some point. The list includes center Jeff Mitchell, fullbacks Bob Christian and Chris Hetherington, runningbacks Natrone Means, Vince Workman and Dewell Brewer, tight end (temporarily) Freddie Jones, defensive backs Emmanuel McDaniel, Donnell Woolford and Derwin Gray, linebackers Steve Tovar, Paul "Dr. Psycho" Butcher and Phil Yeboah-Kodie, punters Tommy Barnhardt and Rohn Stark, and long snapper Mark Rodenhauser. Harbaugh also played in Chicago with safety John Mangum, older brother of Panthers tight end Kris. Another Bears guy - for three games in 1987 anyway, as a replacement player - was a young quarterback by the name of Sean Payton (yep, that Sean Payton).

And make of this what you will. After a 2008 game between Notre Dame and Stanford (the Irish won 28-21) Jimmy Clausen went to shake hands with Harbaugh, but Harbaugh turned and walked away. Harbaugh later said that he didn't see Clausen whom, incidentally, he had recruited before Clausen committed to Notre Dame.

Last but not least, Harbaugh's brother - Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh - was the TE Coach for the University of Pittsburgh in 1987. Pitt's defensive coordinator / secondary coach that year was current Panthers head coach John Fox. Fox and John Harbaugh are friends. Whether or not he knows Jim, and/or what effect this might have on Jim should he be offered the Panthers job, are unknown.

WHO HE MIGHT BRING WITH HIM: Fangio and Roman would be no shock, but no lock either. Polian would be ironic, and unlikely. Should the Chargers not retain him, he could offer a landing spot to old Bears teammate Ron Rivera as a DC or an LB coach. The same could be said of Mike Singletary (who's probably more likely to be looking for a job than Rivera, though both are possible). Also, you have to wonder, if the Panthers had a high enough pick to nab Stanford QB Andrew Luck, would Harbaugh go for him and perhaps attempt to trade current starter Jimmy Clausen to whatever West Coast Offense team would give up a decent offer?

WHY WE MIGHT NOT GET HIM: Jerry Richardson's interview and hiring history has focused primarily on pro-level coordinators and/or coaches. The only exception I can think of is Steve Spurrier, whose interview didn't go particularly well.

ODDS AND ENDS: Harbaugh once slugged former Bills QB Jim Kelly for questioning his toughness - he apparently called Harbaugh "a baby" - while Kelly was an analyst for NBC. He later apologized (sort of). Also had a bit of a dustup with Pete Carroll over comments he made about Carroll leaving for the NFL (turned out he was right). He's got a pinky finger on his right hand that doesn't quite go in the right direction, not that it means anything. Has a Twitter page (http://twitter.com/jimharbaugh) which is a bit unusual for a football coach. Also is co-owner of an Indy Racing League team called, ironically enough, Panther Racing.

ANALYSIS: Harbaugh’s definitely one of the more intriguing options, but it’s up in the air whether he’s really ready to be a pro head coach. To quote the old Magic 8-Ball though, the signs point to "Yes". If he were to be hired, he’d likely have an easy time getting acquainted since he already seems to have met or worked with half the employees in the organization at one time or another.

Harbaugh would be the first primarily offensive-minded coach in Panther history. Some would say that’s a plus, since hiring offensive minded coaches are the hot thing these days. Throw in that, given what I've seen about his personality, there's a good chance he'd give the beat writers a lot more to write about than John Fox ever did.

I'll admit I didn't take him quite as seriously at first, but the more I've researched, the more I've come to believe that he's the right man for the job.

Here's hoping he gets it.

READ UP: Stanford Coaching Bio


UPDATE: There are now strong indications that Harbaugh won't get the job here, but the reasons why depend on who you ask.

If you believe the official team story, he was never in the picture.

If you believe Gantt, the team has reached out to him but found his demands regarding roster control to be a bit too much.

Which is the truth? Don't know, but the result is the same either way. the worry now is that he could conceivably stay at Stanford, a move which might jeopardize the chances of the Panthers getting QB Andrew Luck.

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CURRENT JOB: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator, Arizona Cardinals

HISTORY: Cardinals Assistant Head Coach / OL Coach (2007-present, added Run Game Coordinator title in 2009) Steelers Assistant Head Coach / OL Coach (2004-2006) Steelers OL Coach (2000-2003) Redskins OL Coach (1997-1999) Redskins TE Coach (1992-1996)

DOB: 05/02/59 (51)

STRENGTHS: Unquestioned reputation as a true “tough guy”. Emphasizes discipline. His offensive lines have frequently given up the fewest sacks and been the least penalized. Highly respected in the league. An alumnus of the Steeler system that Jerry Richardson admires. Has worked under great offensive minds like Norv Turner and Ken Whisenhunt as well as spending a lot of time learning under successful Steelers coach Bill Cowher and a year under legendary Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

QUESTIONS: Generally acknowledged as a strong assistant, but not everyone believes he’ll make a great head coach. Has never been a coordinator and might not be a strong Xs and Os guy. Great players have often not made great head coaches (see Singletary, Mike).

PANTHER CONNECTIONS: Was playing for the Redskins when Panther GM Marty Hurney joined the team PR department (1988-89). Was brought to the Redskins by Hurney mentor Bobby Beathard. Former Panthers OC Dan Henning was his OC for four of the ten years he spent in Washington. Currently oaches alongside former Panthers OLB coach Bill Davis (the coach that Kevin Greene choked on the sidelines). Currently coaching former Panther Jeremy Bridges. Was part of the staff that demolished the Panthers playoff hopes in 2008. Grimm's son Cody plays safety for the division rival Bucs.

WHO HE MIGHT BRING WITH HIM: Unlikely Davis would make a lateral move to come back here, unless Whisenhunt wants someone else for the job (possible since there are some questions on the defensive side). DB Coach Donnie Henderson has been a DC before and could be again. Might give current Cards pass game coordinator (and former Steelers coaching mate) Mike Miller a shot at being his OC.

WHY WE MIGHT NOT GET HIM: Another hot commodity, but could be hurt more by the fact that the Panthers have generally preferred defensive coaches.

ODDS AND ENDS: Grimm has been considered as a head coach candidate before. The Bears were looking at him before they hired Lovie Smith. It was believed at one point that he was a lock to replace Bill Cowher as the Steelers head coach before Mike Tomlin was given the job. The story has been told that Grimm was the guy before the NFL stepped in and told the Steelers it would be nice if the team from whom “The Rooney Rule” had come would hire a minority coach. Whether or not this story is true is unknown, but Grimm left the Steelers shortly thereafter (some said on bad terms).

ANALYSIS: How much stock do you put in the “assistant head coach” title? Grimm’s held it with two different teams, but he’s never been directly in charge of a whole unit (offense, defense or special teams). The current “run game coordinator” title is as close as he’s come, and how great is the Cardinals run game right now? Believe it or not, they actually have fewer rush yards per game than the Panthers.

Still, he's a guy I'd love to see the Panthers at least consider. After all, if you want to emulate the Steelers, why not pick up a guy who went through their system? It's been suggested that Grimm used his Hall of Fame induction speech to pitch himself for a head coaching job. He may indeed get his shot next season somewhere. Could be here, and I wouldn't mind if it was, but I'm not counting on it.

READ UP: Cardinals Coaching Bio

WATCH: Russ Grimm's Hall of Fame Speech

UPDATE: Per the Observer's Tom Sorenson, Russ Grimm will not be considered for the Panthers coaching job.

Not terribly surprising given the failures of the Cardinals offense down the stretch.

(guess it's just not a good year for the Panthers to work with anyone associated with Cardinals)

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CURRENT JOB: Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants

HISTORY: Giants DC (2010) Bills DC (2006-2009, served as interim head coach for final seven games of 2009) Bears DB Coach (2005) Rams DB Coach (2003-2004) Jaguars DB Coach (1998-2002) 13 years as a college coach, the first two at the University of North Carolina

DOB: 09/07/62 (48)

STRENGTHS: History of solid defensive coaching. Coaches a ball-hawking style that has led to its fair share of takeaways with most of his units. Also known for a strong belief in hassling quarterbacks. Listens to players and takes their info into account when making adjustments. Restored the Giants defense to good footing after they had gotten shaky under previous DC Bill Sheridan. Team has been ranked one of the highest units consistently all season. A passionate coach who manages to teach players and motivate them without berating them. Players under his tutelage speak very highly of him.

QUESTIONS: Didn’t impress the Bills enough to get the “interim” removed from his first head coaching job. How much is him and how much is the talented Giants defensive unit?

PANTHER CONNECTIONS: Coached alongside Panthers WR Coach Tyke Tolbert in Buffalo. Currently coaching former Panthers S Deon Grant and temporary Panthers Devin Thomas is on the Giants roster.

WHO HE MIGHT BRING WITH HIM: Has worked under Dick Jauron and might ask him to be a DC again. Giants TE Coach Mike Pope has gotten talk as an OC candidate (with the Panthers under Fox).

WHY WE MIGHT NOT GET HIM: Could be a hot commodity in the coaching market.

ODDS AND ENDS: North Carolina native (born in Gastonia). Coached in the early years of the Jaguars under original head coach Tom Coughlin.

ANALYSIS: It’d be pretty ironic to have the Panthers follow up one New York Giants defensive coordinator with another. Fewell’s style might be a little more aggressive than Fox’s, owing to his time under Tom Coughlin. Right now, he’s got plenty of buzz around the league as a head coaching candidate. Still, his time in Buffalo had it’s ups and downs, and the Giants have had a let down or two this season as well. Pretty good chance he gets an interview somewhere, but I have a feeling he might be another year away from being back in the head coaching ranks. I do believe he’ll be back there, though

READ UP: Giants Coaching Bio


(two part interview)

UPDATE: The Panthers have officially requested - and been granted - permission to interview Fewell. The actual visit should come sometime soon.

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CURRENT JOB: Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles

HISTORY: Eagles DC (2009-present) Eagles DB Coach (2008) Eagles LB Coach (2007) Eagles DB Coach (2004-2006) Eagles Assistant DB Coach (2002-2004) Eagles Defensive QC Coach (2001) Assistant to Eagles Head Coach (1999-2000)

DOB: 03/21/74 (36)

STRENGTHS: Considered by many in the league to be the brightest young defensive mind out there. Spent ten years studying under one of the best defensive minds in league history (Jim Johnson). Eagles have continued to be a strong defensive team since he took over as DC after Johnson began to succumb to cancer. Dedicated to the point of being obsessive (which can be a double-edged sword). Like Eagles head coach Andy Reid, McDermott sleeps at his office during the regular season.

QUESTIONS: Might be a bit overhyped because of the Jim Johnson connection. Eagle defense is still reasonably strong, but some question whether it is falling off a bit. Hasn’t been on the job that long. No experience outside of the Eagles organization.

PANTHER CONNECTIONS: Coached against the Panthers in the disastrous 2009 opener.

WHO HE MIGHT BRING WITH HIM: Dick Jauron, current Eagles DB coach and an experienced DC. Given his Eagle background, reasonable to expect he'd want a West Coast guy for an OC, something which would be more suited to Jimmy Clausen's strengths than our current system.

WHY WE MIGHT NOT GET HIM: Could be some competition for him. Plus, if the Eagles think of him as an heir apparent to Andy Reid (and he likes the idea) it might be difficult to pry him away from Philadelphia.

ODDS AND ENDS: Youngest of the potential candidates (edging Schottenheimer by about six months). He and Jason Garrett share the distinction of being two of the younger coaches and the only redheads in the candidate pool (not that it means anything). Played safety in college and credits that with helping him understand defensive principles.

ANALYSIS: One of the tougher ones to evaluate. His resume' is all Eagles, all the time. Has only been with the Eagles and may not want to leave them. Good chance the team could consider him heir apparent to Reid’s job, which could make him hard to obtain. Young and fiery, but so was Jack Del Rio in Carolina. He was given a head coaching job after only a short time as a coordinator, and it hasn’t gone so well. And again, while he studied under one of the all time greats, there are still questions as to whether he’s going to live up to that rep. Throw in that while most guys have experience with multiple systems, McDermott has always been in Philly. Would he succeed outside of that system? Unknown. My take here is that while McDermott may indeed be one of the hot commodities right now, I’m a bit leary of handing him a head coach’s reins until I’ve seen more (remainder of this season may tell us a lot).

READ UP: Eagles Media Guide

WATCH: Eagles Press Pass: Sean McDermott

UPDATE: McDermott's Eagles are the only team out of any of the prospects to make the playoffs (harbaugh's season is over with the Orange Bowl) but there's no indication the Panthers have reached out to him.

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CURRENT JOB: Defensive Coordinator, San Diego Chargers

HISTORY: Chargers DC (2008-present) Chargers LB Coach (2007) Bears DC (2004-2006) Eagles LB Coach (1999-2003) Bears Defensive QC Coach (1997-1998)

DOB: 01/07/62 (48)

STRENGTHS: Defenses have always been aggressive. Emphasizes stripping the ball, so his units tend to force a lot of turnovers. Has studied under some great defensive minds (Lovie Smith, Jim Johnson) and was coached by Mike Ditka.

QUESTIONS: Has gotten head coaching interviews, but no job offers. Career at one point looked to be going in the wrong direction when he wound up being let go by the Bears and took a step back to be an LB coach with the Chargers.

PANTHER CONNECTIONS: Coached safety Chris Harris, who brought his ball stripping ways to the Panthers for three years before being traded back to his old team.

WHO HE MIGHT BRING WITH HIM: Don Johnson (not that one). Chargers defensive line coach was a co-worker with Rivera in Chicago as well. I also wonder of WR Coach Charlie Joiner would like to try his hand as an OC. Charger QB coach John Ramsdell could also be a possibility there. Reaching back to his Bear days, LB Coach Bob Babich might make a good DC. RB Coach Tim Spencer could be a possible OC.

WHY WE MIGHT NOT GET HIM: Competition, but I wonder how much there will be.

ODDS AND ENDS: Like Leslie Frazier, a member of the 85 Bears team. Like Panthers GM Marty Hurney, was a sports reporter (worked for Chicago superstation WGN for three years) before starting his career in football management/coaching. Was also a teammate of Jim Harbaugh when he quarterbacked the Bears. One of a very few Hispanic coaches in the NFL.

ANALYSIS: There might not be a bigger enigma among coaching candidates than Rivera. He’s been considered a potential head coach since his days in Chicago, but despite being interviewed more than once, his head coaching opportunity has never arisen. It’s been speculated that he’s a poor interview (only the people who’ve actually interviewed him could confirm that, of course). Whatever the reason, something hasn’t been there. There’s certainly the possibility of some turnover on the Chargers staff this coming season. Rivera could just wind up as the head coach there if Norv Turner is sent packing.

READ UP: Chargers Coaching Bio

WATCH: Ron Rivera Post-Practice Press Conference

UPDATE: Like Fewell, the Panthers have been granted permission to interview Rivera and can be expected to do so shortly.

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LOL our TE Coach is a former Offensive Coordinator? WTF?

He's coached QBs too.

It actually happens a lot with assistants. Guys go up and down the ladder, switch specialties, etc.

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I'm not really impressed with the way McDermott's defense has been performing as a whole but i'm still not forgetting he excelled as a position coach and his aforementioned dedication is also a plus, and it's not like every good head coach was an excellent coordinator (offense or defense) either. Plus I just like the way they attack the offense in philly and to bring that philosophy here can be a refreshing change

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No Cowher? I think we sign Harbaugh if SF doesn't get to him first. We draft Luck if we do--that will be the worst kept secret in NFL history. Even if we don't get the first pick, Harbaugh is the offensive presence we need. Getting a few DTs and keeping Meeks would not be a bad thing, if you ask me.

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Although I would like the next HC to be Grimm, I think that Harbaugh has a better chance at it.

San Fran may keep Singletary if he can get them to the playoffs...shouldn't be too hard to do in the NFC West

Michigan may look to get Harbaugh also...he is an alum

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I know this is getting away from the OP, but I'd be very interested in looking at Mike Mularkey the OC at ATL. He's done good work with Ryan and they run a good offense. He has head coaching experience. He did o.k. at Buffalo didn't he? I know it wasn't great, but I believe he had them in the playoffs before he resigned. Most coaches don't do well there. Maybe he deserves another chance and he knows the division.

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of the coaches you mentioned, my order is:


tied for close second are fewell and rivera

Mcdermont is 4th

Grimm is last

I don't like Russ Grimm. Do not want him. the offensive line and run game he is in charge of kind of really really sucks, as does the team he is the assistant coach for.

hell, the steelers didn't even want him to be their new head coach even after everyone thought he would be. just saying.

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