At a time of year when there is as much speculation as information, consider this a merging of the two.
If Cleveland succeeds in hiring New England’s vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, then one of the names that would vault to the top of the Browns coaching search would be University of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.
Now granted, the Ferentz-to-the-NFL Watch is almost as much of an annual exercise as The Brett Favre Watch. In 2006, when a handful of NFL teams were searching for a coach, Ferentz had to squash any speculation that he would jump to the pros.
It happened again in 2007, after Bill Cowher left Pittsburgh. Ferentz always has maintained he was extremely happy at Iowa, where he signed an extension in June 2006 to make him one of the highest paid coaches in college football.
But Pioli’s potential presence in Cleveland would be enough to make Ferentz consider jumping to the NFL. He and Pioli are close, there is a tremendous mutual respect between the two, and Ferentz has made it known he never would leave Iowa unless it were for a perfect opportunity. Working with Pioli, back in the city where the two men became friendly in the early to mid 1990’s, could be that perfect opportunity.
It’s speculation that Pioli lands the Cleveland job and then considers Ferentz. But it’s fact that Pioli and Ferentz have a strong enough relationship to make the scenario a realistic possibility.