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Possible Jets Coaching Candidates, Part 5: The Big Names Everybody Always Mentions Who (Probably) Won’t Be Interested

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Oklahoma v Florida Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Jets will likely be looking for a new head coach. Over the next few days we are going to introduce some potential candidates in a series of articles. Surely not all of the candidates we profile will get an interview. It is likely the Jets will speak with candidates who won’t appear on the initial lists. We will go more in depth once interviews are known.

We have talked about NFL assistant coaches, college coaches, NFL retreads, and coaches with past ties to the Jets. Now we will conclude the series by talking about big name coaches.

These are some of the most famous names in the sport. They have track records of success. Their names come up with any opening. However, their fame and resumes allow them to be picky. For the most part these are not realistic targets. Some of them have been living off past success and might not even be all that desirable.

Now let’s look at these big fish.

Bill Cowher

Analyst, CBS Sports

Pros: 161-99-1 career record. Super Bowl XL Champion. Eight division titles. Worked in one of the best, most stable organizations in sports. Teams were ahead of the curve schematically for his era. Won despite not having top quarterback play for most of his tenure. Teams had an identity. Has remained plugged into the league as an analyst since he left coaching.

Cons: Hasn’t coached since 2006. Could he adapt to all of the changes? Would he have the fire or just being doing it for the money? Prior to Super Bowl win teams had a tendency to come up small in big moments.

The bottom line: Cowher speculation has been a staple of every Jets coaching search since 2009. I have always felt like if it was ever going to happen it would have happened then when he wasn’t that far removed from coaching, and the Jets had a team ready to win. There are legitimate questions about whether Cowher could adapt to the modern game. Joe Gibbs has actually coached more recently in the NFL than him. On the one hand, he has continued to follow the league since he retired. On the other, coaching is different from being an analyst. Cowher would bring instant credibility to any franchise who hires him so on the off chance he is interested, I think the Jets would need to listen. I also think it would be important for him to hire a staff full of young coaches with fresh ideas.

Urban Meyer

Analyst, FOX Sports

Pros: Legendary college coach. Won National Championships at two different schools. Used to handling the media in high profile job. Excellent at building a coaching staff.

Cons: No NFL experience. Would have to adapt his offense. Doesn’t seem in a hurry to return to coaching. Would probably prefer to go to college if he returned to the sidelines.

The bottom line: There isn’t anything that would lead me to believe Meyer would have interest in this job. Given that he’s left his last two jobs due to stress-related health issues, it isn’t even clear he’d want to return at all. He’s a heck of a coach so if there was any interest, the Jets should explore it. Given his connection with NFL coaches, I have less concerns about him building a staff than I would with other college coaches.

Dabo Swinney

Head Coach, Clemson

Pros: Has built Clemson into a juggernaut. Prolific developer of talent, especially at quarterback with Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence coming through his program. Has held his own against Nick Saban, the greatest college coach of the era.

Cons: No NFL experience. Does he have the connections to build a staff of coaches who would succeed in the pros the way he has in college?

The bottom line: It’s tough for me to imagine Swinney would have interest in this job. He can either stay at Clemson, collect the $93 million due to him on his contract, and become an immortal of college football, or he can come to New York, work for the Johnson brothers, and subject himself to a massive rebuilding effort. That doesn’t seem like a difficult decision.

Lincoln Riley

Head Coach, Oklahoma

Pros: One of the best offensive minds coaching at any level of football. Has developed two Heisman Trophy winners who were drafted number one overall in a short time. Has won Big XII every year since being promoted to head coach.

Cons: No NFL experience. Would need to adapt to NFL style game planning, which is different from college. Would lose talent edge in the pros which has been part of his success.

The bottom line: I could see Riley making the jump to the NFL at some point, but he has the luxury of waiting for the perfect opportunity. This probably isn’t it.

Jim Harbaugh

Head Coach, Michigan

Pros: Has had success at multiple stops across multiple levels. Developed Andrew Luck, turned Alex Smith’s career around, and got the best out of Colin Kaepernick. Has generally made good assistant hires.

Cons: Michigan tenure has been a disappointment. Has been slow to adapt to modern offensive styles. Questionable big game record.

The bottom line: We know Chris Johnson tried to hire him two years ago. With his status at Michigan looking shaky, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Jets make another run at him. Unfortunately this would feel a bit like hiring Adam Gase. Like Gase in 2018, Harbaugh used to be the hot coach but now has seen his stock fall. At least with Harbaugh there would be an actual body of past success you could use to rationalize it.

Doug Pederson

Head Coach, Philadelphia Eagles

Pros: Super Bowl winner. Has built resilient teams. Won with backup quarterback. Embraces modern strategy. One of the few coaches to go toe to toe with Belichick and win. Has worked with Joe Douglas.

Cons: Eagles are having a bad season. Carson Wentz hasn’t developed on his watch.

The bottom line: I know 2020 hasn’t been Pederson’s finest hour, but I can’t believe how dismissive many Jets fans are of him. He’s a proven quality coach. We don’t know whether he will actually be available. If he is, the Jets should at least consider him.