The Cleveland Browns had high hopes when Romeo Crennel became coach, and even higher hopes for this season alone. But the Browns instead finished 4-12 with no offensive touchdowns in December, and Crennel was sent packing as expected. Now, the Browns try to move on and start anew. But until they get a new coach, everyone will speculate that Bill Cowher will ultimately be handed that difficult task.
Cowher has already been fighting off massive speculation that he will return to coaching, after spending the last year as a CBS NFL panelist. The Browns have emerged as a team that may make a run for Cowher, even though Cowher regularly beat them as coach of their arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, reports are that Cowher has already turned down the Browns’ advances and wants to stay on CBS, at least for 2009. Still, almost every team with a coaching vacancy this offseason may be tempted to make Cowher a serious offer. If that offer is tempting enough, Cowher could change his mind.
The Browns will probably still try to make that winning offer. Additional speculation has them making a run at their old coach Marty Schottenheimer, who has been absent since his latest failure to take a team to the Super Bowl, in this case San Diego.
The Browns weren’t surrounded by Cowher and Schottenheimer talk to start the season. Initially, they were talked as dark horse AFC contender, after a surprising 10-6 season and with quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.
But practically every single quarterback that the Browns had went down to injury, putting the Browns in the basement with an historically inept offense. Crennel faced firing rumors for weeks before he was finally put out of his misery, after two straight shutouts to end the year.
Crennel, like Charlie Weis and Eric Mangini before him, was expected to be a great coach because he was part of Bill Belichick’s Patriots’ staff. But no one who leaves Belichick has come out for the better, as Crennel and Mangini were both fired today, and Weis barely avoided being fired from Notre Dame this year.
Cowher, on the other hand, has laid low at CBS. Cowher was all but burned out when he left Pittsburgh, leaving the year after he finally won a Super Bowl. His nearly 15-year tenure at Pittsburgh would make it especially weird to see Cowher coaching the Browns instead.
But most everyone believes that Cowher will be back to coach somewhere before long, which has made the Browns and other teams get ready to pursue him. If Cowher doesn’t come back in 2009, the offers will be pouring in during the 2010 off season for sure.
Cleveland Sports News- “Cowher rejects Browns; Pioli to be interviewed for GM” blog.cleveland.com/sports/2008/12/cowher_tells_browns_hes_not_in.html
Pro Football Weekly- “Almighty dollar could bring Cowher to Cleveland” www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/Features/Scouts+Eye/2008/eye122908.htm