By Flint Wheeler
The Los Angeles Rams finally did what they had to do and, they fired Jeff Fisher — telling a coach with the most losses in NFL history and a guy who couldn’t help but pick a fight with the Hall of Famer who is the face of the franchise to hit the road.
Now, it gets interesting.
These aren’t the St. Louis Rams of Stan Kroenke, they’re the La La Land Rams of Stan Kroenke, who plans to build a Wally World around the team’s new Inglewood stadium.
Because not just any coach will do, the following pie-in-the-sky names have been mentioned: Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll. Yes, the Jim Harbaugh who coaches the Michigan Wolverines and the Pete Carroll who coaches the Seattle Seahawks. I told you this was getting interesting.
First, Harbaugh. His name surfaced Friday in an offhand comment by the MMQB’s Albert Breer to Colin Cowherd after the two had done Cowherd’s radio show. “By the way, Albert Breer on the way out said that Jim Harbaugh to the Rams rumor is a very real thing,” Cowherd said after the segment.
On Sunday, Breer did a little clarifying about his remark to On the Colin Cowherd Radio Show.
“To be clear… I never said Harbaugh was going anywhere. I believe he’ll eventually be back in the NFL. Until then, teams will pursue him”.
That did little to tamp down the talk. Never mind that Harbaugh is pulling in $9 million and is in his second season at Michigan. He led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl and three consecutive NFC title games. The rap is that the burnout factor on him (and on those to which he reports) is high, but the airwaves were filled with talk about Harbaugh and the Rams. He seems to have the tacit approval of Eric Dickerson anyway.
“That would be a good fit,” Dickerson told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “He develops quarterbacks. He had Alex Smith in San Francisco. He had an offensive line he had to rebuild. It’s almost the same situation you have here.”
And, besides, hiring Harbaugh would resurrect the delicious rivalry with Carroll that spiced up the NFC West.
Which brings us to… Carroll, a man who is 1-1 in Super Bowls and won a national title with Southern California. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson cites “multiple sources with insight into the earliest stages” of a search that officially began Monday who say “a monster name intrigues the power brokers” inside the franchise. Never mind that Carroll is under contract in Seattle through the 2019 season; Oakland traded Coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay for draft picks back in 2002. A trade like that doesn’t come cheap, though. Of course, Gruden also got a truckload of money out of the transaction in addition to the chance to beat the Raiders, the team he helped rebuild, in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003.
“Pete makes sense in a lot of ways,” Yahoo Sports Charles Robinson reported. “There is already a defensive core in place for him to work with. He has deep coaching ties across [the NFL] and knows how to build an offensive staff that can bring along [Goff]. He’s a California guy at heart and has a track record there with the L.A. fan base. He’s also a great, great coach.”
Speaking of Gruden, his name pops up whenever plum jobs open up and Farmer notes that “those close to Gruden have indicated he would listen to a Rams pitch and that he might be interested in a return to coaching” after seven years of doing ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
The Rams may ultimately end up following the more traditional path of a successful assistant, like Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels or Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan, but already the search is looking anything but routine. This isn’t St. Louis, it’s L.A., the nation’s No. 2 market and the future home of a $2.6-billion stadium. At the moment, not just any coach will do.