Bob McNair Rushing to Repeat the Mistakes of the Past
The saying goes that he who forgets the past is doomed to repeat it. And with the Texans supposedly on the verge of hiring Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, it's more than evident that Bob McNair has wiped the past from his mind.
Bob McNair, rushing to repeat the mistakes of the past.
O'Brien is the current IT boy of the coaching world. A Bill Belichick protégé who rode the arm of Tom Brady to offensive genius/QB guru status and turned that into the job at Penn State, a former collegiate power on the slide. And now, after he's turned in two mediocre seasons as a college coach, NFL teams are fighting for the chance to anoint O'Brien as their new savior.
What everyone seems to be forgetting is that every single coach hired off of the Belichick/Patriots coaching tree has failed, and failed spectacularly. Like Eric Mangini. And Josh McDaniels. And Romeo Crennel (twice). And Charlie Weis, who is now in the process of flaming out in his second college head coaching gig.
But O'Brien's different, his supporters say. He's got proven head coaching success. He's a known commodity. Yet he's been less successful in his two years as a college football coach (15-9) than Weis was in his first two years as head coach at Notre Dame (19-6), though no one would argue for hiring Weis to be an NFL head coach.
That's not a fair comparison, others would say. Notre Dame wasn't dealing with massive NCAA sanctions like Penn State. Weis didn't have to plead with players to stay, didn't have to deal with a loss of scholarships and a bowl ban. In which case perhaps the more apt comparison would be Lane Kiffin, who was 18-7 in his first two years after taking over a USC squad dealing with massive NCAA sanctions, players who could transfer to other schools without penalty, loss of scholarships and a bowl ban. Yet Kiffin has become a punch line who no sane owner would consider for an NFL head coaching gig, while Bob McNair is rushing to Cape Cod so he can beg for a guy coming from a coaching line known to produce failure after failure.
It's easy to see why McNair would be intrigued by O'Brien. He is the IT boy, the guy everybody wants, so McNair won't be met with ridicule for hiring him. And because of McNair's self-imposed criteria that the coach have both NFL and head coaching experience, well-regarded coordinators like Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden cannot even be considered (though Gruden was a Arena League and UFL head coach). Also, since McNair insisted on keeping the hapless Rick Smith around as GM, it's likely that such star names as Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy would've quickly said no, if McNair even approached them, that is.
Then, when presented with a list of candidates including Mike Sherman (really?), Ken Whisenhunt (yawn), Wade Phillips (meh) and Tom Cable (WTF?), a name like Bill O'Brien stands out and shines brightly. Then again, many people were dismissive of the first person McNair interviewed, former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith. However, if there's one name that should have been strongly considered, it's Smith because Smith has proven that he can win games when saddled with a lousy quarterback and a mediocre GM -- he got the Bears to the Super Bowl playing Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman at QB by emphasizing the running game and riding the backs of a strong defense -- something that could be done here in Houston.