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Houston Texans Head Coaching Search: Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt To Interview; Jon Gruden To Stay On MNF

As you'd imagine, word about potential candidates and interviewees for the vacant Houston Texans head coaching position are starting to leak out. Here's the latest.

The only difference is the hat and the inability to develop a quarterback.
The only difference is the hat and the inability to develop a quarterback.

Based on what Bob McNair said at the press conference announcing Gary Kubiak's termination, I spent a bit of time on Friday night trying to read the tea leaves about who the Texans could be looking to target as Kubiak's successor. Word has already started to trickle out this morning about who the Texans are looking to talk to and how they're going to do it. First the how:

Hughes (Twitter account here, though it doesn't appear to contain much besides links to various articles) is a head hunter. He's also a former football coach, having coached at the University of Michigan, UCLA, Stanford University, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Minnesota Vikings) before getting a Ph.D in organizational behavior. Hughes lead the Jets' search for a general manager last year to replace the fired Mike Tannenbaum, among other past searches, so this isn't his first rodeo. For those of us who are frightened by the prospect of Rick Smith leading the search for Gary Kubiak's replacement, Hughes' involvement could be seen as a positive. Of course, identifying candidates, running background checks, and arranging interviews is a far cry from making the call as to who gets hired.

Speaking of hiring, we now have confirmation on two candidates the Texans will reportedly interview.

No surprise here. Smith is available to interview right away, as he's not currently coaching anywhere. Makes all the sense in the world to sit down and talk with him for any number of reasons. If the Texans are serous about finding someone on the other end of the personality spectrum from Gary Kubiak, however, Smith would not seem to fit the bill, save his defensive background as opposed to Kubes' background.

The Schefter article linked in that tweet is worth a click for this interesting nugget:

Texans general manager Rick Smith and Whisenhunt got to know each other well from the one year they spent together working on the NFL's competition committee. Smith and Whisenhunt formed a bond, shared a respect of each other's work, and stayed in touch, the sources said.

Mutual admiration aside, I suppose Whisenhunt's candidacy also tracks, given his head coaching experience and yeoman work this year with Philip Rivers. The thing that scares me most about Whisenhunt is his complete failure to develop a young quarterback during his time as the head coach in Arizona. If Kurt Warner hadn't been there for the Cardinals' Super Bowl run, we'd look at Whisenunt's time with the Cardinals as an unmitigated disaster, thanks in large part to his inability to get anything out of Matt Leinart, Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, and Max Hall. You can certainly point to a lack of talent in that crew, but does that really make you feel better about the prospect of Whisenhunt being the guy in charge of developing the Texans' next quarterback? Say what you will about Gary Kubiak, but the guy did great work developing Matt Schaub and managed to win big games with T.J. Yates as a rookie. Whisenhunt doesn't strike me as an upgrade from Kubes. At all.

Finally, for those of you who were holding out hope that Jon Gruden would ride to the Texans' rescue, we get this bit of news (from Gruden's current employer, no less):

There you have it. React to the news in the Comments below.