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Most available coaching candidates lack the 'wow' factor

Overnight, he has become the Fisher King.

The Dolphins brought him to their facility by helicopter. The Rams, you imagine, will send a carriage drawn by linebackers. By the time he gets to Tampa, Fisher may arrive on the back on Albert Haynesworth, whom he will promptly say goodbye to once again.

Just like that, Fisher has become the Lombardi du jour, and his playbook has become the Golden Fleece. He is the coach in the latest NFL auction, and the froth by the pursuing teams is visible.

All of which brings up a question.

Where's the "wow"?

Don't get me wrong. Fisher is a nice coach, and he would look just fine in Bucs colors. He has enough of a resume to get the attention of a young team. All in all, I'd give him a "hmm.''

But "wow"?

Not quite. On a scale of 100, I'd give him a wow factor of about, oh, 84.

Yes, Fisher reached a Super Bowl. But only one in 17 seasons of coaching. He reached the playoffs six times, roughly once every three years. In his first five seasons, he was 32-38. In his last two, he was 14-18. In one six-year stretch in between, he was 38-51.

Of course, it isn't Fisher's fault that teams want him so badly. He's just a guy looking for work. He didn't order the trumpets. Besides, doesn't the lack of wow factor reflect less on Fisher than on the rest of the field out there?

Is it just this season, or have coaches gotten smaller? Glance at the names being tossed about out there, and there aren't many that deserve a decent-sized headline.

Do you want to know the definition of wow? It was the morning you woke up and found out the Bucs had traded for the rights to Jon Gruden. Blammo. It was the lead story on every outlet that writes about sports. There could not have been a larger first-day impact.

Granted, wow factor doesn't always translate into trophies. Steve Spurrier had wow when he went to the Redskins. Joe Gibbs had Hall of Fame wow when he returned to Washington, and Mike Ditka had it when he went to the Saints, and Jimmy Johnson had it when he went to the Dolphins. And the fireworks never went off.

Conversely, Tony Dungy wasn't a wow hire. Neither was Green Bay's Mike McCarthy or New England's Bill Belichick or New Orleans' Sean Payton. With those guys, the big headlines came later.

Look around. Who out there takes your breath away? Who makes you pump your fist? More important, who makes you rush to the ticket office? Anyone?

The candidates other than Fisher:

Bill Cowher: Cowher is a fine coach, and he probably has the most wow of anyone not coaching. For a long time, however, fans in Pittsburgh thought of him as an underachiever, a guy who lost three AFC title games at home. In his next-to-last year, Cowher did win a Super Bowl, and he has been gone long enough that he looks like the wise man on the mountain.

Wow factor: 94.

Gruden: No, he isn't coming home. But he would still be a wow for a franchise that has a strong personnel department and needs a push over the top.

Wow factor: 87.

Brian Billick: For whatever reason, Billick's Super Bowl victory doesn't seem to carry the same weight as Cowher's or Gruden's. Perhaps that's because he had a losing record in two of his last three seasons, or because he won only two division titles in nine years.

Wow factor: 73.

Mike Sherman: You look at Sherman's resume and think, "Okay, what's the problem?'' At Green Bay, Sherman had winning seasons in five of six years, including three division titles. Overall, he was 57-39, good enough to make you forget he was just fired at Texas A&M.

Still, there is this. When the Packers fired Sherman, they were about to move from Brett Favre to a young Aaron Rodgers. They did not consider Sherman the man to lead the Packers into the future.

If the Packers didn't, why should the Bucs?

Wow factor: 71.

Mike Martz: Bucs fans know Martz well from all of those terrific battles between the great Bucs defenses and the great Rams offenses. Martz won three division titles and lost one Super Bowl with the Rams.

Since then, Martz has lost luster. He had a losing record three of his last four years, and he hasn't been a head coach in six. This week, he resigned as offensive coordinator of the Bears.

Wow factor: 40.

Herm Edwards: Edwards is a fine teacher and a good guy. Still, one division title and four losing seasons in eight years isn't good enough.

Wow factor: 38.

Mike Mularkey: The Bucs could do a lot worse. Mularkey has been a head coach and a hot coordinator. In Buffalo, Mularkey was 14-18 before resigning because of a lack of common direction in the front office. More recently, he has done a nice job with the Falcons.

Wow factor: 35, but it should be higher.

Jerry Gray: Gray may be a terrific coach. But who can tell? In five years as a defensive coordinator in Buffalo, the Bills were 31-49. This year, as defensive coordinator of the Titans, his defense was 18th.

Gray has a great reputation, but are those numbers good enough? Besides, coordinators rarely come with wow.

Wow factor: 14.

Again, the Bucs' hire shouldn't be about the wow. It should be about winning.

If that happens, you can always "wow" later.

Most available coaching candidates lack the 'wow' factor 01/04/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 1:21am]
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