Carolina hadn't finished talking to the media after the Saints game, but the media already had John Fox out of the Carolinas.
"I would like to just get through this day and see where everything goes with that", Fox stated in his postgame interview, after finishing the season 3-0, 4-1, and 8-5 over those spans.
Peter King was quoted as saying that John Fox "will coach out the 2010 season and looks forward to 2011 free agency."
Other rumors included Fox' agent Bob Lamonte saying that he was trying to get Fox out of his contract, but that seemed far-fetched.
ProFootballTalk.com and other outlets suggest Fox would prefer to leave now and added a few words from Fox's postgame. For now, the only one not openly talking is Fox.
Meanwhile, rumors of Bill Cowher's re-emergence in 2010 suggested he wants to be in Tampa or Carolina; both Tampa and Carolina's staffs have been asked back. That leaves Cleveland possibly, or Buffalo likely, and not much else is expected to be open barring any potential surprises.
Cowher is rumored to be talking to assistants, though all he can talk with would include coaches not under contract at all and front office guys. So, the names associated with Cowher are Chan Gailey (the report actually suggests that Gailey, not Ken Whisenhunt or Russ Grimm, was suggested by Cowher as his replacement) and front office personnel Kevin Colbert and
Carolina wouldn't have a need for Colbert unless Marty Hurney quit; it's been reported in the past that Hurney threatened to quit if Fox was fired. Otherwise, Hurney would inevitably pick the next coach. More on that later.
The team wants Fox to stay, and it's hard to say that Cowher is the better fit. Better coach? Possibly, but at twice the price. And with an exotic defense that requires exotic players we don't have - all the while as we're playing good defense with what we have.
If Fox did leave, Hurney and owner Jerry Richardson wouldn't be that inclined to go with the bigtime choice - if they had a veteran coach, they have one in Fox. The more likely situation is a promotion from within - for instance, hiring Ron Meeks and hiring a defensive coordinator, trying to protect the other coaches.
It's hard to say what will happen - with Fox getting the green light to stay, he has the leverage. The team can't force any changes, and they can't have Fox in a position of wanting to stay any greater than other opportunities (you'd fight for a job you might lose, in other words, but you might leave a job otherwise).
But, Fox can demand things to stay:
- a new contract or else?
- force changes for the front office
- force changes he wants for his staff, like shoe-horning Charlie Weis in
- force changes in personnel, like Peppers or Delhomme
And, those things aren't guaranteed ways to keep a job. So would Hurney hire from within or outside? If outside, it'd likely not be a Cowher, but a coach who'd do well with what's already there. A young coordinator.