The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have begun the search for the franchise's ninth head coach. Team co-chairman Joel Glazer, representing the ownership family, indicated on Monday he did not want to limit the list of candidates by suggesting there is a type of coach the team wants to hire. The decision will be made jointly by the Glazers and general manager Mark Dominik. Here, then, are a variety of candidates the team could consider:
Sherman, 57, seems a good fit for the Bucs – a former NFL head coach who comes from the offensive side of the ball. Sherman coached the Green Bay Packers for six seasons, compiling a 57-39 record in six seasons and winning three consecutive division titles beginning in 2002. A disciple of the West Coast offense, his success in Green Bay came with QB Brett Favre. Sherman was fired after a 4-12 mark in 2005, Green Bay's first losing season since 1991. He served as offensive coordinator of the Packers in 1999 before assuming head coaching duties. Most recently, Sherman was fired a month ago as head coach at Texas A&M after compiling a 25-25 record in four seasons. Sherman had an infamous post-game altercation with then-Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp after Tampa Bay's 21-7 victory against Green Bay in 2002, accusing Sapp of taking a cheap shot at Packers tackle Chad Clifton during an interception return by Tampa Bay's Brian Kelly. "What you did was wrong,'' Sherman screamed at Sapp before the coach and player had to be restrained.
Billick, 57, also is an offensive minded former NFL head coach – but one with a Super Bowl ring. His 2000 Baltimore Ravens, behind one of the premier defenses of the modern era, won the Super Bowl by beating the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium. Billick was 85-67 in nine seasons as head coach of the Ravens, fired after a 5-11 season in 2007. He is currently is broadcaster for Fox and the NFL Network, but ready to return to coaching. Six of Billick's former assistants became NFL head coaches, including Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati), Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville) and Rex Ryan (New York Jets). Billick has worked several Bucs games the past few years, so is quite familiar with Tampa Bay's personnel.
Rob Chudzinski, 43
Chudzinski, 43, is in his first season as offensive coordinator of the Panthers, a unit that improved from last in the league to seventh in total offense, gaining a franchise-record 6,237 yards this season. He worked closely with rookie quarterback Cam Newton, who enjoyed a record-breaking season by throwing for 4,051 yards. Chudzinksi was a tight end and assistant coach at the University of Miami. He coached the tight ends of the Chargers for two years before moving to Carolina, along with head coach Ron Rivera. As offensive coordinator of the Browns in 2007, Chudzinski helped send four offensive players to the Pro Bowl, including quarterback Derek Anderson and current Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow.
Mularkey, 50, has been Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator since 2008, helping the Falcons to three playoff appearances and developing Matt Ryan into one of the league's top young quarterbacks. Mularkey was 14-18 in two years as head coach of the Buffalo Bills before being replaced by Dick Jauron in 2006. A former tight end with the Vikings and Steelers, Mularkey coached Bucs tight ends in 1995, Sam Wyche's final season in Tampa Bay. Mularkey interviewed for head coaching jobs in Tennessee and Cleveland last year and Jacksonville has asked permission to talk to him about their current vacancy.
Cowher, 54, is the highest-profile among the former NFL head coaches and a Super Bowl winner, but does not appear eager to give up his job as a studio analyst with "NFL Today'' to return to the sideline. Known as a stern disciplinarian with a focus on physical play, Cowher was 149-90-1 in 15 years as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His teams won one Super Bowl championship, two AFC titles and eight division titles in making 10 postseason appearances. Cowher and Hall of Famer Paul Brown are the only coaches in NFL history to lead their first six teams to the playoffs. The former NFL linebacker replaced Steelers coach Chuck Noll in 1992 and resigned after an 8-8 season in 2006, one season after winning the Super Bowl.
Fisher, 53, spent 16 years as head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, compiling a 146-120 record in the regular season and 5-6 mark in the playoffs. His 1999 team went 13-3 and lost to the Rams in the Super Bowl, 23-16. A former NFL defensive back, Fisher served as defensive coordinator with the Eagles, Rams and Oilers. Until Fisher and the Titans parted ways a year ago, he was a long-time member of the NFL Competition Committee, serving as co-chairman along with Falcons president and former Bucs general manager Rich McKay.
In the mix
If the Bucs are willing to consider someone without NFL experience, Kelly, 48, is intriguing. This offensive innovator boasts a 33-6 record in three seasons at Oregon, winning 2010 Coach of the Year honors for leading the Ducks to the national championship game against Auburn. Kelly installed an up-tempo spread attack that terrorized Pac-10 defenses and could be eager to take his unorthodox approach to the next level.
Philbin, 50, is the highly regarded offensive coordinator of the Packers since 2007. He has worked well with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and is a master at creating mismatches all over the field. Green Bay led the NFL with 560 points this season and ranked third in total offense, spreading defenses out with four-receiver sets and overcoming a flurry of injuries up front.
In his third season as offensive coordinator of the Broncos, McCoy, 39, was reunited with head coach John Fox in Denver. McCoy also worked with Fox in Carolina, where he spent seven of his nine years in Charlotte as Panthers quarterback coach. Working with Tim Tebow, McCoy helped the Broncos lead the NFL in rushing this season, averaging 164.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry.
Zimmer, 55, has worked wonders as defensive coordinator of the Bengals since being hired by Marvin Lewis in 2008. Cincinnati made the playoffs with a 9-7 record this season behind the NFL's seventh-ranked defense. He also served as defensive coordinator for the Cowboys and Falcons and is highly respected throughout the league for his work ethic and preparation.