According to the article, Al Saunders is rumored to be one of the candidates on the short list to replace recently fired Frank Solich at the University of Nebraska. Saunders has served as the Chiefs offensive coordinator since the 2001 season. He is credited for making the Chiefs one of the top offenses in the NFL and would make an outstanding college football head coach.
Saunders confirmed Tuesday afternoon in an interview with local sports radio station 610 Sports that he had not been contacted by anyone at Nebraska.
Nebraska officials are determined to change their option offense and are leaning toward hiring someone with an NFL offensive background. Saunders would be a strong candidate for the job but it's not known if he has the ability to recruit great athletes to the University of Nebraska.
Nobody knows for sure what Nebraska Athletic Steve Pederson will do and he's not going to let anyone in on his decision outside of the Chancellor. He is acting as a one man search committee and he is under immense pressure to land a big name coach. He's put his reputation on the line after firing Solich.
Now the problem with hiring Al Saunders is the fact the Chiefs might not finish their season until February 1st of next year. December is a banner month for recruiting visits and with in home visits set for January, it would be nearly impossible for Saunders to do both jobs.
Saunders is also rumored to be the heir apparent to Dick Vermeil whenever he decides to step down. To date, Vermeil has not given any indication that he might be on the verge of making a decision in regards to coaching beyond this season.
Chiefs President Carl Peterson did announce today a one-year agreement to continue training at Rivers Falls next year. When asked about it today at his weekly press conference, Vermeil sounded like a coach that was planning on returning next season.
He mentioned that he was 100% behind the move to extend the training camp relationship at River Falls and sited many reasons as to why it's a good idea to train in Wisconsin. Sounds like a coach who is planning on being around next season.
As for Saunders, he was rumored to be one of the leading candidates for the Houston Texans job in 2001 but indicated a preference to stay with Dick Vermeil.
Some people assume that Saunders after turning down other opportunities already has a deal in place that would allow him to succeed Vermeil whenever he steps down. That might be Vermeils top choice but not Carl Paterson. With that said, Peterson will probably honor the wishes of Vermeil should he step down and give the job to Saunders. Vermeil has already said that he thought Saunders would be a great choice to take over the Chiefs whenever he stops coaching.
Recently both Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports have reported that Vermeil and the Chiefs are in talks on a two-year contract extension. Last Friday Vermeil said that's not the case at all. He said that he will not make a decision until after this season about continuing his coaching duties in Kansas City. He did confirm that Peterson told him that he can coach the Chiefs as long as he wants.
If Vermeil stays another two years that would coincide with the length of Carl Peterson's contract which has two years left. It's my opinion that the tandem will go out together. They started together and my guess is that they want to finish their NFL careers at the same time.
Peterson could turn over his General Manager duties to Denny Thum and Vermeil could turn over his team to Saunders and the Chiefs would be in great shape in continuing the legacy of Peterson and Vermeil respectively.
Nebraska has a plethora of candidates to choose from including Washington Redskins Steve Spurrier, Denver Broncos Mike Shanahan and LSU Tiger top man Nick Saban.
Saban will catch the eye of many NFL teams as he recently turned down offers to coach the Cincinnati Bengals last year and the Indianapolis Colts the year before that. Saban has a large buyout clause but that won't detract from any NFL team making a run at one of the hottest NCAA coaches in the country.
Would he be a fit at Nebraska?
Spurrier is reportedly leaning toward resigning at the end of the season as he is rumored to be the top choice at North Carolina. That would give the Tar Heels one of the best college basketball coaches in Roy Williams and one of the top College football coaches in Spurrier. Now Shanahan is getting so much heat in Denver, despite his new contract, he could be a viable candidate for the Nebraska job.
As for Saunders it would be hard to leave the Chiefs during the next two months and if Nebraska waited on him, then they would suffer at least one more year of mediocrity in the Big 12.
With Pederson embarrassed by the teams nine win season, he needs a coach who can recruit now. If Pederson is insisting that the team change its offense, they'll need to completely revamp the way in which they recruit.
The state of Nebraska is a breeding ground for future Cornhusker players who are adept at running an option style offense. It's not particularly strong or talented in churning out high school players who can run a pro style offense.
With that said, Saunders is not likely to interview for the position unless the Cornhuskers give him some assurnaces that he's a serious candidate.
Don't look for Vermeil to get in the way if Nebraska does offer Saunders a job. When Greg Robinson was a candidate for the UCLA job a year ago, Vermeil said he would not get in the way of one of his assistants leaving the Chiefs during the season to pursue a head coaching job.
Vermeil, Saunders and the Chiefs have a Golden opportunity and its one that has not happened in Kansas City in 33 years. So any move by Saunders would have to be done in a way that would not affect the Chiefs drive for a Super Bowl Championship.