Chiefs Head Coaching Future Becoming Clearer?

Maybe its wishful thinking on my part but on Friday things started to fall into place for the Kansas City Chiefs if they want to begin thinking about the heir apparent to Dick Vermeil. And if someone granted me that wish, it would be USC's Pete Carroll.

Early Friday afternoon the San Diego Chargers announced that the Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer had agreed to a two year contract extension. With their sudden surge from AFC West cellar dwellers to AFC West Champions, the Chargers ownership, the Spanos family, felt it necessary to sign their veteran coach to an extension to show unity and solidarity within the franchise.

Everyone in Kansas City needs to give a vote of thanks to the Spanos family and sent them a thank you note. Schottenheimer will now handle the reigns of the Chargers for the next four seasons and that means he's a virtual lock to stay put in Southern California.

The other fortunate news for Kansas City Chiefs fans came a few hours earlier when USC Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart decided to come back for one more record setting season at the helm of the back to back defending NCAA National Championship football team.

Leinart made it clear that he wanted to do something that nobody has ever done. That's win three straight national championships. And folks it's a lock to happen. USC is the best college football team in America and Leinart is the best quarterback prospect to come out of the Pac 10 since John Elway.

With Leinart staying that means his Head Coach Pete Carroll has no intentions of leaving USC this season. He too wants a shot at NCAA lore and when the wins that third straight National Championship next season; he'll become the hottest NFL coaching commodity in recent memory.

Carroll has already spurned overtures from two NFL franchises, the Chargers last year and the San Francisco 49ers this season. The Spanos family though multi-millions at Carroll last January but he was not interested in moving down the coast from Pasadena and just last week the 49ers came calling and begged, pleaded and recruited former players to try and set up an interview with team owner John York.

But to his credit and class, Carroll passed and made a statement that he was happy at USC, at least for now. Carroll has had a pair of stints in the NFL as a head coach. Both were failures to some degree. In 1994 he coached the New York Jets to a 6-10 record and he was quickly dismissed after one season.

His next stint was with the New England Patriots from 1997 to 1999. At New England he won the division title his first season and made the playoffs the second but failed the third year thus he was fired. That's when the Patriots owner Bob Kraft decided to bring in Bill Belichick and they've promptly won two of the last three Super Bowls. But Carroll had a hand in the turnaround of the organization because he turned around a franchise that never reached its potential prior to the 1997 season.

The last three seasons, he's turned around the USC Trojans and turned them into a National Power. If he wins his third consecutive championship next January, he'll have given the Trojan Alumni something that will enshrine him in their hearts forever.

They will also forgive him when he jumps to the NFL the following season. That jump could land him in Kansas City to coach the Chiefs.

This is going to be a one and done season for the Chiefs organization. With their entire coaching staff and management signed for just one more year, the future of the Chiefs is already taking shape.

Team owner Lamar Hunt has been giving more and more control of the organization to his son, Clark. It was Clark who suggested the team go after Dick Vermeil back in 2000 and though not much is known about the Junior Hunt, sooner or later he'll put his stamp on this organization once and for all.

That could come after the 2005 season. The one knock on the Chiefs organization is its age. From management to key players they are all long in the tooth. Granted if the Chiefs brought in Carroll to become their head coach; he'll be 53 years old. But that's a far cry from someone pushing 70.

Don't get me wrong Dick Vermeil is one of the best coaches in the NFL. Despite the failures to recognize his teams' talent the last three years on defense; Vermeil does not have to answer to anyone. Nobody!

This organization needs a shot of youth and they must go a different direction. If indeed Clark Hunt is going to make a decision on the Chiefs next coach; he must first decided who is going to be his General Manager. Current President/CEO/GM Carl Peterson also has one year left on his contract and it was his desire to get out of the game with his friend Vermeil.

That still maybe true and its obvious that the two have not seen eye to eye in regards to player personnel the last several years but that happens every year with coaches and general managers.

If the Chiefs are looking for a new general manager they should tab Scott Pioli, Vice President of Player Personnel for the Patriots, to be their top executive. He's an astute evaluator of talent and nobody can argue with the success that New England has had in recent years.

Pioli is a hot commodity so would be current New York Jets General Manager Terry Bradway, who used to work with the Chiefs before taking the gig in the Big Apple. Pioli was considered for the GM job with the Browns and Dolphins but neither organization was to his liking. The Chiefs are a solid organization and with a younger more vigorous owner; he would be a perfect compliment to Clark Hunt. I'm sure Pioli would agree that Pete Carroll would make a fine NFL Head Coach for the Chiefs.

The one thing about Pioli is that he's smart, football wise and he has been very patient waiting for the right opportunity to move into a General Manager role. Despite the Chiefs recent failures, this is one of the most passionate fan bases in all of professional sports. It's also one of the most loyal.

Those are two things that could lure both Pioli and Carroll to Kansas City. After their respective 2005 campaigns neither will have anything left to accomplish with their current gigs.

The Chiefs face a one year do or die season. Even if they are aggressive in free agency, they still face a roster overhaul and they must start looking at the future now because 2006 will be here soon enough.

Whatever Chiefs fans get in 2005 will be a bonus and also signal a farewell to an era that has been both fun and disappointing. Still it's better than it is in cities like Cleveland, Miami, San Francisco, Oakland and a host of other NFL cities who don't even support the home team on Sunday.

That's a good thing if you're a Chiefs fan, especially one that hopes the new regime expands upon the local support to really build a Super Bowl winning team year in and year out. There is not a more starved craved championship town in the NFL who's ready to burst at the seems to see their team make it to the big game. It's been 35 years since the last Championship team and its high time we get ourselves another one.

Kansas City is closer to reaching that goal than many thinks and Carroll and Pioli would only solidify an organization that is ready to welcome in some new blood. In the NFL it's all about change and that change is coming to Kansas City.


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