HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush (L) and former Houston Oilers head coach O.A. "Bum" Phillips talks on the sidelines before the Houston Texans played the New York Giants at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
You’ve got to hand it to the Texans organization. They certainly make things interesting for folks who spend a great deal of their time writing or reading about the franchise. Never mind the fact that the on-the-field performance isn’t what has drawn attention for quite some time, at least for those that had their breaking point somewhere along the way while watching the predictably disappointing play this season. The terrible play has actually led to the current interesting state of affairs.
The obvious need for some sort of change mixed with little to no official information coming from the organization has led to everyone whose business or hobby it is to follow the football team to try and read the tea leaves. Kerns posted a good summary of various bloggers’ feelings earlier yesterday in regards to the two latest rumors at the time, which were a list of completely unpopular Gary Kubiak replacements to be picked by GM Rick Smith, and the addition of recently deposed Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator for the Kubiak-coached Texans next season.
The latest nugget that has flown under the radar for the most part is the recent visit by former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips and quarterback Dan Pastorini to Texans practice. Bum Phillips is the closest thing this city has to a historical, revered football personality. Seemingly, he showed up at practice on a whim to support his former ball boy, Gary Kubiak. There’s a few things here that are odd though.
First thing that struck me was the complete lack of coverage by HoustonTexans.com. Usually the website does a fantastic job of covering everything that is positive towards the team ad nauseum. There’s pictures, movies quotes, etc. Yesterday the Houston coaching legend rated a 5 line blurb that simply stated he watched from the sideline with Bob McNair, his son Cal and General Manager Rick Smith. It also didn’t include any of Bum’s pretty interesting quotes. Luckily, Dale Robertson at the Chronicle did. Here’s some of the gouge:
"Gary Kubiak is as good a football coach as anybody, believe me," Phillips said. "You’re not going to get any better coach than him, and that’s one reason I wanted to come and watch his team practice. If you can still make your team practice like these kids practiced today in the last week of the season with nothing to look forward to, then believe me, he’s got control of the football team."
Gary Kubiak himself fielded some questions about the tenuous nature of his future as head coach. The usually ho-hum, "it’s on me" persona was nowhere to be seen though:
"I’m going to do this for a long time," he said. "I’m a good coach. I’ve got a lot to give. I know (fan unhappiness) is part of the business. When you get yourself in this position I’m in as head coach, these are things you’ve got to deal with. So I will deal with them the right way, and I’ll come out of it a better football coach. I understand it’s part of the deal."
Kudos to Robertson, who did cover the obvious angle that recent rumors have indicated that Bum’s son Wade would be taking over as defensive coordinator for Gary Kubiak, who would in turn get one more season. Asked about the possibility of his son joining the Texans, Bum said:
"I know he’s going to coach again," Phillips said. "Wade don’t know how to enjoy anything except football. A lot of people play golf or gamble or go hunting or fishing. ... All he cares about is football. As long as he feels that way, I’m sure he’ll stay in it. If (the Texans) need a coach, I’m sure he’d be tickled to death, and I’m sure they would be, too. Wade’s a Houston boy."
Many Texans writers and fans have been leery about hiring a defensive coordinator or head coach for next season that runs a 3-4 defense, as the Texans currently do not have the personnel suited for that style. Bum even went as far to address this issue when asked:
"Sure. They played the 4-3 a lot of places Wade’s been, like Philadelphia. You play the defense that fits your personnel."
Ok, there are a few options for what’s going on. One option is that Gary Kubiak has become exceptionally nervous after the loss to the Broncos and all the rumors of his impending firing. This nervousness caused him to change his stance on defending himself to the media and call an old friend to show some support. That old friend just happened to go above and beyond when asked about his son serving as defensive coordinator, because who wouldn’t try to get their own child a job that seems attractive?
If this is the case, I have to take my hat off to Gary. It is a well played move that shows tactical intelligence on a level not normally utilized by Kubiak on Sundays. By calling in Bum, you immediately gather some support from Houstonians that remember the glory, Luv Ya Blue days, and at the same time give credence to the recent rumors about his son. By doing so, you give Bob McNair the chance to gauge public opinion and if that reaction is favorable, it possibly saves your job.
It seems like more than that though. First, you have the rumor come out that Kubiak will be fired and Rick Smith will stay to choose from three coaching prospects who are undesirable to the average Texans fan. Then a rumor gets loose that Wade Phillips, a not-so-good head coach but a bona fide defensive coordinator, is going to team up with the head coach that can run a great offense but doesn’t know defense from a hole in the ground. Then, you have his daddy show up the same day, talk about what a great idea it is, and the team’s official media outlet doesn’t cover any of it. I hate to sound like Jim Garrison, but all of these rumors and events seem to be connected.
I also have to admit that for me personally, it worked. Not because I fell for the ruse of Troy Calhoun, but because I can see that this organization is stuck in its ways, and by that I mean stuck hiring people from Bob McNair’s trusted circle. I personally would love to see the whole thing blown up and someone brought in that is going to completely shake things up, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. And if it’s not, and the options are (1) keep Kubiak and hire a defensive coordinator from the circle of trust or (2) fire the coaching staff, keep the front office and hire a Gary Kubiak clone with a less impressive resume, I choose the former.
Never mind the fact that Wade was just fired from one of the most historically lax organizations in sports for having no discipline or accountability. Also, Bum was nice enough to point out that Wade ran a 4-3 in Philadelphia, but that was the only time he ever did in his six stops as a defensive coordinator.
I’m going to write another post on what Phillips as a DC would be like for the Texans, but for now I’d like to get your opinion on my conspiracy theory. Do you think it’s a done deal, or do these events not have any connection to the ownership? Furthermore, if they do have connection, what is your opinion?
Late Edit: As Kerns pointed out in the comments, the official website has added a video with one of the Bum Phillips quotes listed above, but doesn't show the rest of the interview.