Top Candidates to Replace Chuck Pagano

The recent talk around the NFL surrounds the Colts and head coach Chuck Pagano. This is his 6th year as head coach and he’s compiled a 49-32 record. This year looks like it’s going to be like boarding the Titanic as long as Andrew Luck is standing on the sideline. Assuming that the season goes the way I expect it to (6-10 looks like the best case scenario), Pagano will be kicked out the door.

This post will consist of the coaches that will likely be on the Colts radar. From college coaches, to coordinators, to even “retired” coaches. Let’s dive in.

The College Guys

1. Jim Harbaugh – Michigan HC

Harbaugh will naturally be the first name thrown out there, and for good reason. He’s one of the best coaches in the sport, he recruited and coached Andrew Luck at Stanford, and he also used to play quarterback for the Colts. BUT, he will NEVER take this job. At Michigan he has all the control in the world, his domineering personality can’t really get old when you’re constantly getting new players, and of course because of the owner Jim Irsay. The reason why he ultimately left the 49ers was because him and owner Jed York basically hated eachother, and why would he want to potentially have that same dynamic with Jim Irsay. And also, he makes more money now at Michigan than he ever will in the NFL. Hell, just getting his name mentioned will likely get him a raise.

2. Nick Saban – Alabama HC

Another guy you have to make a call for if you’re an NFL team. Sure his first stint in the NFL went down in flames, but like Harbaugh, he’s one of the best coaches in the sport, if not the best. Problem is, he’s 68 years old, and if he was going to leave Alabama, he would have left for Texas when the job came open after Mack Brown got fired. And also like Harbaugh, the financial perks at Alabama outweigh anything he can get in the NFL.

3. David Shaw – Stanford HC

Like Harbaugh, Shaw will get mentioned because of his connections with Andrew Luck. But I don’t think there’s any upside to leave Stanford. He’s a Stanford alumnus, his family is a pillar of the community, and as long as he’s there and they even remain competitive in the Pac-12, he’s their coach until he retires. Life’s too good for him at Stanford to risk an NFL job.

4. Urban Meyer – Ohio State HC

Out of all the top coaches in college football, I think Meyer is the guy that would be the most likely to jump to the NFL. This is his 6th year at Ohio State, and his 17th in college football overall. He’s done all there is to do at the college level, winning 3 national titles, including 1 at Ohio State. Doing all of that while still being only 53 years old, this could be the perfect time for him to make the jump.

5. Kevin Sumlin – Texas A&M HC

A very interesting name to throw out here. We’ve all seen his offenses at Texas A&M, and we’ve all seen the heights it can reach when there’s a dynamic quarterback at the helm. He may be on the “hot seat” for a historically mediocre program, but that may be the case of the A&M boosters unrealistic expectations. With the recent buzz around the boosters and his job, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Sumlin backchanneled his way into an interview for the Colts job.


1. Josh McDaniels – New England Patriots OC

McDaniels figured to be the top coordinator on the market last summer, but ultimately decided to stay in New England. With Tom Brady entering the twilight years of his career, next year is likely the year McDaniels tries his hand at being a head coach once again. Last time he hitched his wagon to Tim Tebow, this time he’d be smart to create an offense for Andrew Luck.

2. Todd Haley – Pittsburgh Steelers OC

His first stint as a head coach with the Kansas City Chiefs completely blew up, but that ended back in 2012. Will 5 years in between gigs be enough to realize what he did wrong the first time around? There’s no denying the offensive mind that Haley is as the Steelers have had one of the top offenses during his time there. The main thing that would take him out of the running is his personality clashing with Jim Irsay.

3. Harold Goodwin – Arizona Cardinals OC

Bruce Arians is perceived as the mastermind of their offense, but Goodwin has the stamp of approval of Arians for a potential head coaching gig. There’s also a connection he has with the Colts, as he was their offensive line coach back in 2012. Goodwin has interviewed for head coaching jobs each of the last two years.

4. Rob Chudzinski – Indianapolis Colts OC

Chudzinksi was the head coach of the Browns in 2013, but was viewed as unfairly fired after one 4-12 season. He’s currently the offensive coordinator for the Colts, as well as the assistant head coach. If the Colts are looking for some sort of continuity even after firing Pagano, Chudzinski would be the guy. Similar to what the Giants did when they fired Tom Coughlin and hired Bob McAdoo.

5. Mike Shula – Carolina Panthers OC

The son of legendary coach Don Shula, Mike has been part of the Panthers offensive staff since 2011, including offensive coordinator since 2013. His offenses have ranked in the top 10 three times, including the highest scoring offense in the league in 2015 when Cam Newton won MVP. He has previous head coaching experience with his stint at Alabama.

Former Coaches

1. Jon Gruden – Former NFL head coach, current ESPN analyst

You didn’t think you’d get a shortlist without Jon Gruden did you? He’s in the rumor mill every year, and we all know he loves his quarterbacks. He’s drooled all over Andrew Luck in his career, and I think he’d love to be able to coach him. I know he also loves the booth at ESPN for Monday Night Football, but if he decides to go back into coaching I think the’s guaranteed to get another top broadcasting job wherever he wants it. If he doesn’t go soon, he’ll never do it.

2. Bob Stoops – Former head coach at Oklahoma

What are the odds that he retired from Oklahoma just so his offensive coordinator would have the job? And did he retire so it would be easier to leave a historic power like Oklahoma for the NFL? I’m just spitballing here, but I think it’s possible. He’s an offensive guru, and with a QB like Andrew Luck, offensive guys will always be at the top of the list. Stoops was rumored as a potential replacement for Bears head coach John Fox just last year, and he’s still young for a coach at age 57.

Is this Chuck Pagano’s last year as head coach of the Colts? If so, who do you think is the guy to replace him? Start a conversation with us @thomas_mooney1, @AFewGoodMics


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