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Head Coaching Search: Internal or External Hire?

Posted Jan 5, 2012

The Chiefs have tested both in-house candidates and external applicants at head coach with mixed results

Details of the Chiefs head coaching search are beginning to leak, signaling that the team is turning up the heat in finding a new face for the organization.

And is the hire ever an important one…

As promised, a thorough coaching search began weeks ago and has continued into the first week of the 2012 offseason. Some candidates who’ve interviewed for the job are known. Others have been kept private.

Fans aren’t the only one’s eager to learn more about the candidates interviewed. Players and assistant coaches are interested as well. Thus far, the team has made no official comment on its coaching search since Chairman Clark Hunt and GM Scott Pioli addressed the media following Todd Haley’s dismissal as head coach on December 12th.

“We just have to let the chips fall where they may,” Chiefs Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We don’t have a say over what goes on, not even a little bit. When it comes down to making a decision, it’s the guys upstairs doing it and they’ll do a great job.

“Whoever comes in or whoever stays, we’ll be ready to play for them next year for sure.”

Though the team has attempted to keep its candidate list quiet, with the exception of Romeo Crennel, both Hunt and Pioli were clear that the search for a new head coach would also include external candidates.

When it comes to selecting a head coach, the Chiefs have looked and hired both internal and external applicants through the years.

Gunther Cunningham (16-16 record from 1999-2000) and Frank Gansz (8-22-1 record from 1987-88) were both in-house hires when they took the reigns as Chiefs head coach. The other seven coaches since Hank Stram left the franchise in 1974 were external hires (excluding interim head coaches Tom Bettis and Romeo Crennel).

“You never know what’s going to happen in the offseason, whether its players, coaches or personnel, so I’ll keep an eye on it and an ear open to see what’s going on through the whole thing,” Chiefs defensive end Glenn Dorsey said.

With today’s media climate, players will likely find out who their next head coach is at the same time as the general public.

Whether the Chiefs next coach should be Crennel or an external candidate, arguments can be made for both. The fact remains that only two head coaches in Chiefs history have been able to make more than one playoff appearance and both are in the team’s Hall of Fame.

The Chiefs want their next head coach to be a consistent winner, consistently competing for championships. Those expectations put whoever is hired the same circle as Stram and Marty Schottenheimer.

As the search continues, it’s not about external vs. internal, it’s about finding the right fit.

“I’d like to think that our head coaching job would be very attractive,” Hunt said back on December 13th. “Certainly the history of the organization, our tremendous fan base, Arrowhead Stadium and many of the great people we have associated with the franchise, I think would make this attractive really to any head coach.”

As the process moves forward, Chiefs players will sit back and watch the news unfold just like everyone else.

“I think we’re strong minded and have been through a lot,” Johnson said. “So whatever happens, thinking positively, we’ll make strides to be even better.

“Our job is to win the AFC West and we feel that we can do that next year. We were 3-3 in the division this year with a few games in there that we felt like we should have won.”

All-Time Head Coaches in Chiefs Franchise History

1960-74: Hank Stram, 124-76-10 (.614)

Previous Job: Assistant Coach, University of Miami

Next Job: Head Coach, New Orleans Saints

1975-77: Paul Wiggin, 11-24 (.314)

Previous Job: Assistant Coach, San Francisco 49ers

Next Job: Defensive Coordinator, New Orleans Saints

*1977: Tom Bettis, 1-6 (.143)

Previous Job: Defensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

Next Job: Defensive Coordinator, St. Louis Cardinals

1978-82: Marv Levy, 31-42 (.425)

Previous Job: Head Coach, Montreal Alouettes (CFL)

Next Job: Head Coach, Chicago Blitz (USFL)

1983-86: John Mackovic, 30-34 (.469)

Previous Job: Assistant Head Coach/QBs, Dallas Cowboys

Next Job: Head Coach, University of Illinois

1987-88: Frank Gansz, 8-22-1 (.274)

Previous Job: Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams, Kansas City Chiefs

Next Job: Special Teams, Detroit Lions

1989-98: Marty Schottenheimer, 101-58-1 (.634)

Previous Job: Head Coach, Cleveland Browns

Next Job: Head Coach, Washington Redskins

1999-2000: Gunther Cunningham, 16-16 (.500)

Previous Job: Defensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

Next Job: Linebackers Coach, Tennessee Titans

2001-05: Dick Vermeil, 44-36 (.550)

Previous Job: Head Coach, St. Louis Rams

Next Job: Retired

2006-08: Herm Edwards, 15-33 (.313)

Previous Job: Head Coach, New York Jets

Next Job: Television Analyst

2009-11: Todd Haley, 19-26 (.422)

Previous Job: Offensive Coordinator, Arizona Cardinals

Next Job: TBD

*2011: Romeo Crennel, 2-1 (.667)

Previous Job: Defensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs

Next Job: TBD

*took over head coaching duties following in-season coaching change

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