Todd Haley’s first year as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 went about as poorly as you might imagine: 4-12. Nobody really blamed Haley, though – let the record show he inherited a young team that compiled the worst record in franchise history, 2-14, under Herman Edwards. But in Haley’s second year, everyone fell in love with the fiery coach because he got the Chiefs to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Three games into Haley’s third year in Kansas City and everyone’s starting to realize maybe that playoff appearance was a mix of Charlie Weis calling the plays, a favorable schedule, and some luck (turnover margin +9, tied for fifth in the league). Year three in the Haley era: Zero wins, last in scoring offense, last in scoring defense, best defensive player out for the year, best offensive player out for the year … shall I go on?
These are tough times in KC, and while nobody’s talking about firing Todd Haley – though Edwards was jettisoned after year three – Kent Babb, who covers the Chiefs for the KC Star, was batting around some potential replacement names for Haley Sunday night and this one seemed interesting: Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz.
Ferentz is a midwesterner who has been the Hawkeyes’ coach since 1998, but before that, he dabbled in the NFL (under Belichick in Cleveland, and then in Baltimore). Ferentz’s name always comes up for elite college football openings, but best I can tell, he’s never seriously entertained any offers. He was rumored to be in the mix for the Houston Texans’ job in 2006 (it went to Gary Kubiak), but at the time, John Clayton of ESPN reported that Ferentz wouldn’t go anywhere “without a personnel guy” … which leads us to Scott Pioli, who is currently the GM of the Chiefs.
Pioli has had an up-and-down few years since arriving in 2009. Ten days after getting hired, he canned Edwards and then hired Haley, who had zero previous head coaching experience, but had just guided the Cardinals’ offense to the Super Bowl. Pioli traded fan favorite Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta – in hindsight, not a wise move. Pioli’s biggest blunder was giving Matt Cassel $42 million (sidenote: Babb thinks Pioli is so smitten with Cassel, and the franchise is so committed to their QB, they might not draft Stanford’s Andrew Luck). Pioli did strike gold with Charlie Weis, though (but he left after one season, maybe because of friction with Haley, but probably because of his ties to Florida).
The Pioli-Ferentz connection will be drawn because both have a history and both are connected to Bill Belichick. Pioli drafted Ferentz’s QB last year, Rick Stanzi. When he was with the Patriots, Pioli hired Ferentz’s son as a scouting assistant.
Then again, Pioli and Haley have a history, too (both were briefly in NY with the Jets). Haley’s in year three of a four year deal. Obviously, he’ll try to secure an extension this offseason. Will Pioli give it to him, or make a run at Ferentz?