Apparently, not even owner Jeffrey Lurie knows who the next Eagles head coach will be, but that hasn't stopped the media from speculating.
At today's meetup with reporters about the firing of Andy Reid, Lurie said, "We do have a very very defined list of candidates and we hope to meet with some of them as soon as possible. ... The important thing is to find the right coach, not make the fastest decision."
Not one potential coach has been contacted so far, and some candidates might not even be available for interviews till after the Super Bowl, he said.
The decision will be made by Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and club president Don Smolenski, Lurie said.
Here's a roundup of various reports and rumors that likely includes some names on Lurie's list, although guessing the eventual pick is probably as accurate as a dart thrown blindfold in a windstorm.
Bear in mind that Reid - a quarterbacks coach who had never even been an offensive coordinator - was a surprise to pick to succeed Ray Rhodes in 1999.
Jon Gruden will entertain offers. So reports CBSSports.com. Although the former Eagles assistant, who led Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl victory after eliminating the Eagles from the playoffs, has said he plans to remain an ESPN analyst, "privately, the Gruden camp has acted differently, and let it be known the former coach is interested in returning to the NFL," writes Mike Freeman. ". . . Two teams to pay close attention to regarding Gruden are Philadelphia and San Diego (although the Chargers might focus on a younger coach)."
But Chip Kelly's the first choice? The Birds may be most interested the innovative college coach at Oregon, according to CBSSports.com, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio and others. "I clearly think they are targeting Chip Kelly. They want a big name," said Paolantonio on Friday to another ex-Inquirer sportswriter, The Fanatic's Mike Missanelli. But not only might the Eagles face strong competition from other teams, Kelly might be tough to persuade. "League sources say Kelly is looking for near complete control when it comes to personnel decision-making power, and that doesn't appear to be available in the Eagles' organization, where general manager Howie Roseman is expected to be in charge of the roster in the post-Reid era," according to Sports Illustrated's Don Banks. Besides, Kelly's up-tempo offense might not be a fit for Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles, according to ex-Eagles QB Ron Jaworski of ESPN.
Bill Cowher's in the mix? After Kelly, the ex-Steelers coach, who won a Super Bowl, could be the Eagles' next choice, Paolantonio said. "A name that I hear cropping up that may be still in play: Bill Cowher," he said. "Keep that name right now in the back of your mind." "Highly unlikely," writes Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, website of the Newark Star-Ledger. ". . . Cowher is happy to stay on the CBS pregame show desk" and "would likely command a complete overhaul of the roster and front office."
Next: The NFL assistants. After Kelly, Cowher and Gruden - guys with head coaching experience - the names most frequently mentioned are NFL assistants, especially offensive coordinators.
Leading the pack might be three represented by agent Bob Lamont, who also represents GM Howie Roseman.
"Remember the names Mike McCoy, Jay Gruden, and Ben McAdoo," the Inquirer's Jeff McLane wrote Sunday.
Jay Gruden, younger brother of Jon and offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals "turned down at least three interviews last offseason," wrote McLane. "The Bengals' offense showed minor improvement upon last season, but Gruden remains a contender for a top job."
McCoy, a former college and Canadian Football League quarterback, "has been described as hardworking, unflappable, and one of bright young minds in the NFL by those who have worked with him," according to McLane.
McAdoo, Packers quarterbacks coach for just one season, "may not yet seem qualified to make the jump to head coach, but Reid was Green Bay's quarterbacks coach for only two seasons before Lurie boldly selected him."
Temple connection? The Indianapolis Colts, with a rookie quarterback, surged into the playoffs as offensive coordinator Bruce Arians took over the reins while head coach Chuck Pagano was treated for leukemia. The former Temple Owls coach should be considered for coach of the year, said Mike Lombardi, a former GM with the NFL Network. "Remarkable job," said Lombardi. ". . . His work is on tape, and there's proof in terms of what he can do as a head coach." But his age, 60, makes him a longshot if "Lurie is looking for a younger coach who can guide the franchise for the next decade," writes Raanan.
Penn State connection? Bill O'Brien, who helped resurrect the Nittany Lions after the Jerry Sandusky child-sex scandal, "may be on more short lists than Oregon's Chip Kelly and that would include the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles," according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. "O'Brien's leadership, innovative offensive mind and time spent under [New England Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick make him an attractive option to NFL owners," writes Raanan. "If he goes all-in for the Eagles job, expect him to land the position. Jeffrey Lurie thinks very highly of the Patriots organization." But, according to McLane, "Penn State is believed to have a large buyout clause in O'Brien's contract - somewhere in the $9 million range - to keep the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator from leaving so soon."
What about Nick Saban? The former Patriots assistant turned college championship winner is a god in Alabama, but he might be tempted to tackle a new challenge and return to the NFL, writes Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel. Lots of teams might be interested, from Cleveland to Jacksonville, but so far Saban has said little to encouraged the rumors. Maybe that will change after Alabama takes on No. 1 Notre Dame Jan. 7 in the BCS Championship Game. Jaworski, by the way, is no fan of Saban's.
Names, names, names. From a long alphabetical list by Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com:
-- Vic Fangio, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, "presided over two top-five defenses . . . straight-shooter who doesn't mince words."
-- Ray Horton, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, has "coaching roots . . . in Pittsburgh, where he served under two Super Bowl champion head coaches in Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin."
-- Dirk Koetter, Falcons offensive coordinator, "led Atlanta to top-five rankings in completion percentage, passing touchdowns, completion percentage and yards per attempt."
-- Steve Marriucci, NFL Network analyst, said to be hankering to return to coaching. "Had four seasons of double-digit wins as head coach of the 49ers from 1997-2002 and won two division titles before he flamed out in Detroit."
-- Greg Roman, 49ers offensive coordinator, has helped developed several quarterbacks, including standout rookie Andrew Luck when he was at Stanford, underperforming Alex Smith, and Smith's recent replacement, Colin Kaepernick.
-- Kyle Shanahan, Redskins offensive coordinator, who revamped Washington's attack to fit the talents of sensational rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. Son of Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan.
-- Mike Zimmer, Bengals defensive coordinator, who has had the top defense and four more Top 10 defenses in total yards in the last 13 years.
Shying away from the NFL? Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian is a name tweeted by NFL.com's Albert Breer as a Chip Kelly alternative. Sarkisian did get great production from Rich Gannon and Kerry Collins as a quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders. But he spurned an offer to coach Al Davis' club and declined an interview request last season with the St. Louis Rams. "There may come a point where Sarkisian wants to give the NFL another shot, but with a renovated stadium and a program seemingly on the verge of taking a sizable step forward it seems unlikely Sarkisian will decide to make that move this year," writes Curtis Crabtree at profootballtalk.com.
Fuggedaboutit. Steve Spagnuolo isn't a trendy choice anymore, writes Raanan. The former Eagles assistant became defensive coordinator for a New York Giants team that won the Super Bowl, but then flopped as head coach for the St. Louis Rams, and, most recently, his defense in New Orleans was among the league's worst. Even less likely is the promotion of Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg -- unless Lurie is looking to enrage local fans.