Sadly, Gary Kubiak has had his fill of the migraine-inducing job of coaching the Denver Broncos, and that means the team is beating the bushes for its fifth head coach in the past seven years. (Eric Studesville, we hardly knew ya as an interim head coach before they sent you back to the most thankless job in Dove Valley: trying to get some yardage out of the running backs.)
Talk radio shows are full of the usual inane rumors and bold suggestions. The team has a long history of incestuous hires, including John Elway and Kubiak himself, the former backup to Elway when the current GM was a QB. Elway has suggested he's looking for a young up-and-comer, quite possibly someone with no track record as a head coach. And that might be the smart way to go. Certainly, some of the names being tossed around in the online chatter right now are a bit too familiar — or just plain ridiculous — to be taken seriously.
Here are three that should be removed from any potential list right now, if not yesterday.
1. Josh McDaniels
Unbelievable that Josh McHoodie's name keeps coming up in the talk of bright young things who might be perfect for the Broncos. Did someone perform a memory wipe on all these pundits? Were any of them in Denver during the two seasons that New England's once-and-future offensive coordinator all but demolished the franchise with lame trades, demoralizing head games with pouty quarterbacks like Jay Cutler, and the inexplicable jettisoning of talent like receiver Brandon Marshall? Some will give credit to McDaniels for drafting Tim Tebow — one of the team's most exciting, if ultimately ineffective, stars — but others remember him best for the $50,000 fine levied on Denver for failing to report an illegal taping of a San Francisco 49ers practice. That's the kind of sneaky move we all expect from a Patriots alum, right?
2. Mike Shanahan
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If McDaniels would be a big step backward, Shanahan would be free-fall through the rabbit hole. We like his steakhouse, get scared to death watching his spooky-eyed commercials for genuine NFL tickets, and have fond memories of the Mastermind in his prime. But he's far too much of a father figure to Elway to mesh well with him in his current role. On the other hand, Kyle Shanahan, Mike's son, who's demonstrated how to set an offense on fire down in Atlanta — that's some nepotism we could get behind. The Broncos have already sought permission to talk to the younger Shanahan, but they might have to take a number.
3. Jim Harbaugh
No question that Harbaugh worked wonders in San Francisco, taking the 49ers to the conference championship in each of his first three seasons as head coach. His work there seems even more impressive when you take into account how badly the team fell apart after his departure, the result of a power struggle with the general manager. But ever since Harbaugh left the NFL, there's been a widespread assumption that he's just dying to get back in. If that was the case, he could have taken any number of top jobs available over the past three years; for the most part, they were his for the asking. Maybe he genuinely likes coaching at Michigan, one of the finest college programs around. Wooing him could be a costly and time-consuming and ultimately fruitless process, when there are all those young up-and-comers still to interview.